Presidential visit at Sarasota school on 9/11 quickly shifts gears

Reporter: Lois Thome Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

It’s not every day an elementary school gets a presidential visit. You can imagine the excitement. But, the historic day for one Sarasota school soon became a historic day for the entire country.

A fun reading lesson at Emma Booker Elementary involving Former President George W. Bush, on 9-11-2001, turned dire with one whisper.

“I vividly remember the look on his face. I remember telling my photographer something happened to his parents like you could tell something was wrong,” said Maria Tsataros, former WINK News reporter who was at the event.

Something was wrong. The president was told the country was under attack.

“One by one, all of our pagers started to go off,” Tsataros said.

Planes had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.

“My news director sent me a text on my pager that said, ‘It appears America is under attack. You are with the president. Keep us posted.'”

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

“I’ll never forget that day for weeks and months. There was this spirit among everyone in the country. It was a beautiful thing. We were all in this together,” Tsataros said.

In today’s polarizing time, Tsataros hopes we never forget history.

“The biggest takeaway I share with my kids is the American spirit. We are a free country. There are people who want to take that away from us. 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,” Tsataros said.

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