(Column originally ran on Sept. 11, 2009)
On Sept. 11, 2001, I was working for the Blue Springs Examiner selling advertising. Heading into work, and running a few minutes behind, I left the house about 8:15 a.m. When I started the car, I almost knew instantly something was wrong. It was the same feeling I had back when we invaded Iraq when I was in high school. My regular music station, 101 The Fox, wasn’t playing music, and it was eerie listening to a disc jockey try and explain that we were now at war.
On this fateful day, again, there was no music on my music station, only silence and background noise.
I quickly turned to 980 AM and couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
As I pulled into the office, I slammed my Grand Am into park, raced inside and asked if anyone had heard what was going on. Being a newsroom, of course, they had.
I immediately turned on the TV in the small break room of what is now Rod’s Sports on R.D. Mize. I remember frantically trying to keep up with the ‘crawl’ at the bottom of the screen, a seemingly genius news idea that hasn’t gone away since we were attacked that day.
I called my parents. I called my editors in Independence. I called my friends.
Like many Americans that day, I felt chaotic and helpless at the same time. It was a surreal mix of anger and fear that only intensified as I watched the second tower hit fall down, then the first.
I remember screaming in the break room each time something happened – a plane hitting the Pentagon, another going down in a field in Pennsylvania.
Knowing I wasn’t going to get a lick of selling done that day, I eventually headed to Independence where the newsroom was bustling with energy. The front page had to be redone, the news and photo wires were going crazy and plans were being made to put together a special section on what was now being called a terrorist attack on our country.
I remember crying a few times that day, especially when I attended an impromptu church service that night at the parish I grew up in, St. Mark’s Catholic Church.
We felt pride as Americans and defeat for all the innocent lives lost all in the period of a day. It was more emotion than any of us were prepared for, especially with the intense and often close-up media coverage given to the events of the day.
I remember being proud to be a member of the media that day, too – something I have felt many times in my career despite what some may say about our profession.
The day took a lot out of us, and even more in the form of sacrifice from many that lived and worked in the cities that were hit and soon after with the enormous task we were about to ask of our military.
It was a day that culminated with many of us slowly walking in the front door of our homes that evening, slumping into a chair and trying desperately to find something else on TV.
And no matter how your night ended, you will never forget how it began that morning.