"It was a lifetime ago and it was yesterday"

One Hill Country man recollects seeing the World Trade Center towers struck, and then collapse — he calls it his worst day ever.

After 20 years, Edward Jackson struggles to hold back tears, describing the worst day of his life.

A Vietnam veteran, a broadcast engineer who helped cover war zones, Jackson said nothing compares to Sept. 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center in New York City.

On Saturday, on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Jackson was a guest of honor at Kerrville's Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter ceremony marking the day. Jackson received an invitation from Eddie Garza, a veteran and the chapter's junior vice president, to be the speaker.


Also on hand were Tierra Land Ranch volunteer firefighters, Kerr County Sheriff Larry Leitha and several Kerrville police officers. More than 75 people attended the event, which included a barbecue fundraiser for the VFW.

Leitha said the day is a reminder that we must still be vigilant when it comes to terrorism.

The ceremony featured a color guard from Tivy High School's Air Force Jr. ROTC program, an honor guard of veterans, and a flag presentation to Jackson, who now lives at Tierra Linda Ranch and volunteers as a firefighter.

As Jackson tells it, he was building a new television production studio inside the World Trade Center on the Friday before the attacks. On that Tuesday morning, he was running late into Manhattan. A broadcast engineer by trade, Jackson was working on finishing running more than 14,000-feet of cable, but as he entered the mammoth North Tower, he heard an airplane and then watched it go into the building.

"To watch that building sway and then collapse in on itself was the most heartbreaking thing to see in New York," Jackson said tearfully. "Those were towers of freedom."

Jackson said he's been asked what's the worst thing he's ever seen in the years since. Without hesitation, Jackson says it was Sept. 11.

As the buildings collapsed, Jackson and thousands of others ran away from the World Trade Center, only to be engulfed in the vast cloud of dust and soot that blasted its way through lower Manhattan.

"I must have cleaned my mouth out three or four times," Jackson said. "Once we were able to get away from it, the shock still wasn't over."

In his professional life, Jackson helped major television networks deliver their news from remote locations. He was in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kuwait and other hot zones. But he was looking forward to building out a studio in the World Trade Center when the attack happened. As the tallest buildings in New York, the World Trade Center was also a powerful broadcast hub with antennae arrays at the top of the towers. Several broadcast engineers, trapped in the upper floors, died on Sept. 11 as the building collapsed.

In 2004, he retired and ultimately found his way to Texas — a place he loves. However, the cloudless September day in Manhattan will be with him forever.

"It was a lifetime ago, and it was yesterday," Jackson said. "The memories you forget, the tragedies always come back. We have to remember them."

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