I have a million awful memories about working in news on 9-11 and one good one. Nineteen years ago today, I had just walked through the front doors of the TV station where I worked with my husband. Back in the day, we worked together in downtown Toledo, Ohio. Our station had just started in-house news programming the year before. We didn’t have morning news and there was no one in the newsroom but the assignment editor. He was screaming at the top of his lungs. He needed help getting our satellite tuned to the network news feed so he could get it on the air. A plane had just hit the World Trade Center.
At that time, we were assuming it must have been a small plane. It was hard to determine scale when you’re looking at video of something as large as the Twin Towers. My husband and an engineer worked with him to get the video feed and to put it on the air. Twenty seconds later the second plane hit. Something was very wrong.
The Bad Stuff
Bleary-eyed reporters and photographers, used to working the night shift, came into the station. No one was sure what was happening or what we were even supposed to cover. Mostly we just stood there in horror together and watched the towers burn and crumble. Our station shared a building with several federal offices including the FBI and DEA. The government decided to evacuate all of their offices. We heard an alarm sound and we watched out the newsroom windows as other workers in the building literally ran away. We couldn’t leave. TV stations can’t go off the air during emergencies. The building did send security in to check for bombs and we had to make a contingency plan of how to get news on the air should the building be targeted.
At one point, when the plane that eventually crashed in Pennsylvania turned authorities were afraid they were targeting the nearby nuclear plant. It was one scary day. It was a long one, too. I don’t think we got out of there until close to 8 pm.
My One Good Memory
Then the only good part of the day happened. As we drove home through a busy street in Toledo’s South End, there were three boys standing together on a corner. One was black, one was white, one looked to be Hispanic. Together they held an American flag so big it took all three of them to hold it up a respectful distance from the ground.
Passersby honked and waved and cheered and called out “God bless America! United we stand!”
I remember thinking, “You idiots, you thought hitting the tallest building was hitting us where we lived. You don’t know us, you don’t understand us. Tall buildings are where we go to work. This is where we live.”