Remembering 9/11: Reporter recalls moment former President George W. Bush was informed of attacks

Reporter: Lois Thome
Published: Updated:
On Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush was at Emma Booker Elementary School while two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City.

It’s not every day an elementary school gets a presidential visit, but the historic day for that school soon became a historic day for the entire country.

A fun reading day lesson at Emma Booker Elementary in Sarasota County, the president smiling, turned dire with one whisper.

“I vividly remember the look on his face,” said Maria Tsataros.

Tsataros was a 25-year-old reporter working for WINK News at the time. She was assigned to cover President George W. Bush’s visit to the school the morning the two planes struck the Twin Towers in New York City.

Tsataros said she remembers recognizing the look of concern and telling her photographer something must have happened to Bush’s parents.

“You could tell something was wrong,” Tsataros said. “One-by-one, all of our pagers started to go off.”

Tsataros said she received a text on her pager from te news director at the time: “It appears America is under attack, you are with the president keep us posted.”

Tsataros said she thought about the school children and their innocence changed with news of the attack.

At that point, no one at the school knew the magnitude of what was happening or the fact that the Pentagon and United Flight 93 were next.

“This year kind of snuck up on me when your station called and said 20th anniversary,” Tsataros said. “In so many ways, it seems like yesterday.

“I’ll never forget that day. For weeks and months, there was this spirit among everyone in country. It was a beautiful thing, we were all in this together.”

In today’s polarizing time, Tsataros hopes history is not forgotten.

“The biggest takeaway I share with my kids the American spirit. We are free country there are people who want to take that away from us,” Tsataros said. “I just wish we could figure this all out. We are all sharing one world together, it doesn’t have to be this difficult. It doesn’t have to be this kind of hate.”



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