We all know what happened seven years ago. I wanted to record my personal experiences regarding the day’s events and all the days that followed. It started as a fairly typical day. I got off my commuter train in
I walked across
Both of us were watching local TV newscasts and flipping back and forth between channels. It was approaching the top of the hour at nine o’clock. Our morning news show, The Early Show, was just about to sign off. Anchor Bryant Gumbel ended the last moments of the show with a shot of smoke coming out of the
At the top of the hour, all the network and local newscasts returned to the air live. Everyone was confused. Immediate reports speculated that it might have been a wayward small plane. Distant shot or close-up, the entire world seemed to be watching the accident via television. Just a few minutes later, we saw the silhouette of another huge plane make a unusually large turn over the
Both my next door neighbor Brion and I were responsible for show crew requirements and we were already on the phone calling everyone we knew. The message was simple: Come to work and prepare to stay a long time. Newscasts would be on the air all day long and someone had to be in the studio to make it happen. We had mixed results. Some people wanted to run in. Others insisted on staying home. By about 9:45 am, we started hearing scattered reports about other plane hijackings around the country although the various accounts were only fragments of information.
Around ten, the first tower collapsed to the ground. I remember concentrating on my recruiting work and watching the TV in my office through the corner of my eye. Various directors and producers were calling clamoring for every person they could think of. Hotel rooms were being booked. Alternate transportation was being arranged. By 10:20, I remember NBC’s Today Show mentioning that there was a possibility that several other planes may have been hijacked with unknown destinations and that there was a massive fire at The Pentagon in
Around the same time, people down the hall at CBS Master Control had received phone calls from the transmitter engineers on top of the
At 10:30, the
During the next hour, we heard more details about The Pentagon plane crash and another aircraft down in
As the day progressed, we heard that the
By this time we were all exhausted and tired looking for adrenaline to carry us through the long haul ahead of us. One of my friends, a camerawoman named Michelle, had been rumored to have been at the site during the collapses. Later that evening I saw her covered with white powder as a souvenir of her plight. I was so glad to see her alive and well. It was another reminder of how close we were to the site.
The afternoon dragged on with endless speculation regarding what had happened. Of course, non-stop news and special reports were to continue all night. My telephone pleading for crews changed to a relentless search for hotel rooms. The work never ended. The requests kept coming for every future day part. Crew the overnight show. Crew the morning show. Get people in for emergency edit sessions. All of the New York City TV stations were off the air except Channel 2 who still had a transmitter at The Empire State Building. All the broadcasters’ equipment at WTC was now crushed and buried in the tower rubble.
If I remember correctly, we finally got off the air with continuous coverage at 9 am Wednesday morning about a full day after the initial events. My wife called me asking me to call my daughters’ school. It had not occurred to my daughter, until she went to class, that I had not come home. I insisted that she be brought out of class so I could tell her that I was OK. She sounded very relieved when she heard my voice. I had been up the entire night and I was hungry and tired and sleep-deprived. I finished my final hotel and crew arrangements and had my ducks in a row. I headed home just around noon time.
The days that followed were the beginning of a new world. Police and National Guardsmen were seen at nearly every
As time went by, we heard about the casualties: The husband of a tennis partner, the brother of an old work mate, the sister of an employee. Everyone seemed to know someone who had been taken victim by the disaster. We all felt the lack of freedom. We all saw the new