I was fresh out of college, September 11th, 2001. I was working at my first official job in television news, producing the dayside content for NBC4LA.com.
My morning ritual was lying in bed and turning on The Today Show for a few minutes before getting ready for my 10am shift.
I woke up around 8am and saw smoke coming from one of the Twin Towers. Matt Lauer talked about an accident, possibly a small commuter plane crashing into the building. He also mentioned it was the same location of a terrorist bombing years before. I called my boyfriend (now my husband), woke him up and told him to turn on the TV.
Katie Couric was doing a phoner with a producer near the scene. You could hear the sound of a plane and then a horrified scream from the producer. She said, “another one just hit.” The ball of fire on television was one of the scariest things I have seen in my life.
When the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center, the talk changed. The anchors remained calm, but you could hear the panic in callers’ voices. Everyone knew this was no accident.
I rushed and got ready for work. I wondered what would happen next. Could LA come under attack? How many people had been working on the floors that were hit? How about the people who worked above them? Were they trapped?
When I got to work, The Pentagon had been hit.
I spent the day looking at footage that I’ll never forget. People hanging out of windows, struggling to breathe, some making the decision to fall to their death instead of burning alive. Some people were still clinging to the buildings when the towers fell. The people running, the city covered in ash, it was a living nightmare. People would appear on television in the days to come, clutching missing posters, hoping for a miracle that their loved one had survived.
There are no words. If you struggle to remember what it was like that day, or if you aren’t old enough to remember, all it takes is youtube search.
I spent two hours this morning watching video and listening to 911 calls from that unforgettable day. It took me right back to ten years ago, the fear, the anger, the sadness. The pride that I’m American and the frustration that I will never feel as safe again in my own country.
My heart breaks for those who died that day, those who were left behind, people who have become sick from inhaling the toxic chemicals while doing recovery and cleanup at the site.
Thank you to the heroes. The firefighters, law enforcement, the security in the buildings, paramedics, the regular folks who helped out that day and continue to do so.
I will never forget and when I have children, I’ll make sure they don’t either.