Rio Hondo teacher remembers attacks

RIO HONDO — On the day of the Sept. 11 attacks, Elaine Dispo was in college in Abilene and working in the local newspaper office preparing for the next edition.

During her weekly Tuesday morning department meeting around 8:30 a.m., the secretary came in and whispered to the editor that the Twin Towers were hit.

Dispo said shortly thereafter, the secretary returned and informed them the Pentagon was the next target.

“Upon abruptly ending our meeting, our newsroom seemed chaotic as we tuned into our TVs to the catastrophic news and ended up releasing a second edition of our local paper that day,” said Dispo, today a Rio Hondo High School teacher.

Living near an Air Force base caused more panic. Some thought the base might be the next target.

“Since I lived near Dyess Air Force Base, where my father had served in the United States Air Force and where I took my evening classes, my college roommate felt fearful that our area would be at risk,” Dispo said.

She said her life changed because of the tightening of security at military stations and airports.

“And justifiably so,” Dispo said. “I also strongly considered undergoing training to become an officer for the USAF when I was in graduate school in 2005.”

It was a time when women were being deployed into combat.

“My blood bleeds red, white and blue for my family, friends and their fellow servicemen and women in uniform,” Dispo said.

She recalls exactly one decade after Sept. 11 she heard one of her speech students at Texas State Technical College tell the class he decided to enlist in the Army National Guard as a result of President George W. Bush’s urge to find Osama Bin Laden, “dead or alive.”

Dispo said she assigned her high school English students to interview adults — family members, other teachers, coaches or bosses — about their experiences on that fateful day.

“My student, Cristal Treviño, showed photos of Ground Zero from her uncle, who worked at a high rise in New York City with a view of the Twin Towers on Thursday,” Dispo said.