Woman recalls watching World Trade Center attack
CHAMPAIGN — Like many Americans, Maggie Cascone has struggled with the nation's invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as an economy that never seems to pick up.
Unlike most Americans, she was only minutes away from her work, at a gift shop on the top floor of the World Trade Center's Tower 2, when the first airliner struck on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
Champaign's Cascone, 37, has moved back here for family reasons, and she spent the morning of the 12th anniversary of the horrific attacks at West Side Park, at a memorial she called "short and sweet."
She did not speak, and nobody knew she was a survivor. But the ceremony deeply moved her.
"It was definitely a hard morning, but I'm glad I went. And I'm glad Champaign still remembers; some other towns have stopped" having ceremonies, she said.
Cascone said Sept. 11, which cost her some close friends, is always in her thoughts.
"It's not like this is the only day of the year I think about it," she said.
After graduating from Eastern Illinois University in 1999, Cascone has moved across the nation as retail store manager and as an events coordinator at Twin City Tent and Awning.
She said that at times it has been a financial struggle, in a nation still in a funk a dozen years after the shocking realization that terrorists could strike at any time.
She'll never forget that it was only because she broke her routine, and decided to have some cereal for breakfast, that she was too late to get into the tower.
She was on a train that arrived in the station in the World Trade complex just when the first plane hit, and nobody was allowed off — though she says some survivors were allowed on the train to escape the area.
Despite her sorrow and her anger against the al-Qaida terrorists, she had her doubts about President George W. Bush's reaction to the attack.
In the wake of attacks that killed 2,996, military forces went into Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden was believed to be hiding, and Iraq, the home of Saddam Hussein.
"I never thought we should have been in there in the first place," Cascone said. "A lot of people didn't understand my position. But there were a lot of people killed over in Afghanistan who didn't have anything to do with the few people who made the Sept. 11 attacks."
She said "women, children, husbands, wives" died on Sept. 11, and again in the military response to it.
"It makes me sick to see the innocent people who died," she said. "It was not necessary."
She also has her doubts that strikes against Syria would not harm innocents.
"There's no guarantee" that Syrian higher-ups would be effectively targeted, she added.
Cascone was glad to see the end of bin Laden.
"I was happy that the main person had finally been captured," she said.
"It wasn't really a sense of relief; even though the man responsible for it is no longer alive, it will always be alive in me, in my family, in everyone.