Tuesday, September 11, 2007

...and the home of the brave.

It's September 11th. And I've been fighting the urge to do a memorial post for a couple of weeks now. It was a horrible day, and I'm not sure I want to go through it again. But maybe if I do it now, I won't have to do it again next year.

Just like everyone else, it started as a pretty normal day. I was working as a traffic reporter for WSC-AM in Charleston, SC. Our morning host was out, and the program director was filling in. The regular morning show guy had been diagnosed with cancer and was going to be out for a while having chemo but his prognosis was good. We hadn't figured out a permanent solution, so Nate, the PD was sitting in the chair for now. Ray was in his usual place in the newsroom. I was in the control room with the producer. It was all normal.

We had started to wrap up the show, as it was approaching 9 a.m., when Ray cracked his mic and said "Nate, check out CNN." Every studio has at least one TV, ours had three, so we could monitor news and weather. One of the World Trade Center Towers was burning. I took off down the hall to tell the other stations. All of the morning talent in the building came into our studio as we watched and talked about what had happened on the air. And then I opened my big fat mouth and said "What's that other plane doing there?"

And then the second tower was hit.

It was at that point that we began to simulcast on all the stations. Eventually, the morning talent went home, and was replaced by the afternoon folks, still on the air, still relaying news, still taking calls from people who had loved ones in the towers. But my husband stayed. He didn't go home when the morning people went home.

He was involved in a discussion with someone on the air about the structural integrity of the buildings, when he said "Those towers have been burning for hours, I don't know how much longer they can stand". Which was met by a scoff from someone, who replied "They're steel, they're designed to burn."

And then the first tower fell.

I was at home with a our program director's wife and her son. We spent most of the day crying, and trying not to watch the television.

But my husband was still at work.

At seven o'clock that night, as Nate came home to see his family, he looked really tired. He walked up to me and said "Please. Please, he's going to drop if you don't make him come home. He hasn't turned off the mic for hours."

I went back to the station. I asked. I pleaded. I had to drag my husband from his chair. He went on the air that morning at 5 a.m., and he didn't leave the building until almost 8 o'clock that night. He'd barely eaten all day. He was surrounded by half empty cups of coffee. I tried to convince him that someone else could do the news the next morning, but he wouldn't listen. We both got up at 4 a.m. and went to work.

Two days later, Nate said he wasn't sure if he could host the show anymore. He was looking for someone else to do it. I told him Ray should be the one. And he told me it was going to be me.


mjd said...

My heart is sad as I read your post. I empathsize with the feelings that you expressed in the first paragraph. Take care. My thoughts are with all of us.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Big hugs Jen.
I will never forget that day.
I was at work with Mr B. (We worked in the same office then training unemployed youngsters.)

Miss E had just turned one and I remember just wanting to go home and hold her.

We only had a radio in the office but we kept it on all day and the shock was palpable.

We got home and watched the news in silence. I will never get the images of people jumping from the buildings out of my head.

I can't imagine how they felt. I hope I never have to.

It sounds like you and Ray and the team around you were there for so many people that day.
That's all we can really do isn't it.
Just be there.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

I've always wondered what the view was from "the media" on that day. I guess in a situation where it's so personal for everyone, it's even harder to keep any kind of objectivity at all.

Like so many people, I've been dreading this day. Credit to you and jo for meeting it head on. I can keep my head in the sand all day long, but it doesn't change anything.

I wish it did, though.

www.thegrandview.wordpress.com said...

I got a lump in my throat reading that. And of course, I just finished my own post about the same subject so I was already filled with emotions.
What's that saying Jen? Out of bad comes good? Let's hope that's true.

Diana said...

I can see where the events of that day would affect those in the media especially hard. We all remember where we were. I was coming home from grocery shopping with 2 yr old Colin making lots of noise in the back seat, so I couldn't hear what the radio was saying, but I had the feeling that I'd better turn on the news when I got home and got the groceries put away. The rest of the day, I spent near the TV. I'm glad to know what was going on with you that horrible day.

jillian said...

Being in Canada, we got some bizarre situations up here too. Of course, we were all able to watch what was going on through CNN, FOX, whatever stations were running things from the US direct; but of course, EVERY station in the world was broadcasting live from New York. I remember I was online and checking messages on a message board when I read "what the f*** - someone just flew a plane into the trade center!" I got offline and turned on my tv - low and behold, the tower was in flames. I got so unbelievably frightened - one of my dear friends lives in NY, so I was scared to death. I didn't know what to do - knowing that the lines of communication would be minimal at best... then the second tower was hit... then the first tower fell... then the second and all I could do was watch in horror. Every building in Toronto (CN Tower especially as the largest free-standing structure in the world) was evacuated and people, of course, didn't know why - they were at work and didn't know what was going on in the world. They soon found out. All I remember was going to work (as I didn't have a choice - I had to work that afternoon) not knowing if my friend Mary was ok...

Thank God she was - she was in Florida when the attacks happened, but that was without question, the most frightening day I can remember thus far.

I remember getting in touch with Jen - who was in SC at the time (knowing that she was in radio,and that she would be freaking out justifiably). She of course was ok - but worried about Ray (again, justifiably).

It's days like this that make you care about things a little more, that make you hug your family a little bit longer...

my two cents said...

We all have our stories. Thank you for sharing yours. I like what Jillian said: It's days like this that make you care about things a little more, that make you hug your family a little bit longer...

Jen said...

Hey y'all...

Thanks for all the comments. I think Ray and I just dealt with it differently. He tried to stay in "newsman" mode so that the pain wouldn't hit him. He felt he had to do something. I literally had to take the rolling chair and pull it away from the board to get him to come home. It was a rough night for us both.

It's interesting to hear other people's stories from that day. Thank you guys for letting me share mine.

Joy T. said...

I must have come in the house and just turned on the tv when you said "what's that other plane doing there?" because I remember staring at the tv going "what the??" and then the plane hit the tower. I stood there so confused and I didn't turn the tv off for days. I really appreciated the news people who looked like they were so desperate for sleep but stayed to keep the world updated. I kept wondering what was going through their heads and now I know.

Dumdad said...

It's a day none of us will ever forget.

I was at The International Herald Tribune in Paris. I was sports editor that day.

An intern came running into the sports department and said a plane had hit the tower.

I switched TV channels to CNN and there was the burning tower.

When the second plane hit the other tower I thought it was a replay of the first plane. Then the awful reality . . .

Most of my colleagues were American and their thoughts, naturally, were of relatives and friends who lived and worked in NY.

Of course, we went into professional mode and produced the newspaper.

I dealt with the sports pages in double-quick time then helped out on news.

It was just a dreadful, dreadful day.

Poetess said...

My sisters birthday is the 11th of sept and it willalways be tinged with sadness now.