10 years since 9/11

It is hard to believe it has been 10 years since Sept. 11th. Back in 2001, Erin and I were both working at the Chronicle-Tribune and were part of a small, but extremely talented team of journalists. On that day, Erin and I had worked the previous night shift until 1am and I am sure I stayed up several hours afterward, so we were both fast asleep when the tragic events started unfolding in NYC. In fact, we were so zonked that we did not hear the phone ringing off the hook as the newspaper tried to get a hold of us. They then sent photographer over to wake us up and we didn’t hear him knocking on the door either. So he decided to climb through the window, which scared Erin out of her slippers. Interestingly, one-year later to the date, we were flying home from his wedding in KC.

Anyways, we spent the next week at the newspaper working hard to produce great coverage and special sections on the historic event. Erin designed some great front pages which we still have saved in the garage. My biggest contribution was a interactive CD I made that saved all the newspaper’s issues on the event as well as a photo gallery of the week and a list of victims put to music. The newspaper placed these CDs titled ”Day that Changed America” around town and sold them – donating the $6,500 profits raised.

Our work as journalists defined our experiences of 9/11. I read every bit of coverage that was pouring across the wires. I was extremely moved by all the amazing stories of heroism and survival, but they were far removed from my life. I did not think the next attack was coming in Marion, or fear much for how this was going to change the world. As a journalist, I thought of it more analytically, in that our government had failed to recognize that the terrorism that was already plaguing the world for decades would eventually come to US shores. That we had not done enough to put Osama down sooner, after the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. The ensuing wars had a closer impact as I began to know friends and acquaintances that were going off to war.

But now, 10 years later, so much has changed in our personal lives. The biggest of course is the arrival of our girls. So if 9/11 were to happen today, it would be a much different experience. Even when Obama announced a mysterious late-night speech (which we later found out was for Osama’s death) – I was in Atlanta and the wild speculation of what the president was going to announce was frightening. All I could think of was that I was far away from my family – way too far away if this turned out to be a serious tragedy unfolding. So, now the anniversary coverage stories that impact me most emotionally are those of the 7,000 children that lost a parent that day. And those that lost their children, such as Allison Crowther whose 23-year-old son, Welles, worked as an equities trader on 104th floor of the South Tower. It was not until years later that she discovered that her son was the mysterious “man in the red bandanna” that had saved over a dozen lives as he bravely reentered the building at least three times to rescue people, before the tower collapsed on him and the firefighters he had joined up with for another trip up to rescue more people pinned by debris.

September 11th may not be the biggest US tragedy in terms of deathtoll, but it certainly has made a seismic shift in our culture and the way we see the world. Luckily, it is in hard times that heroism like the man in the red bandanna and the strength of character like that of the surviving families that perseveres.

One Response to “10 years since 9/11”

  1. I love this post Steve. I would love to buy one of those CD’s for Shayla to see someday. Copies? I want to see Erin’s pages as well, you both are so talented!