For James Debeuneure, the fifth grade Ketchum elementary school teacher aboard American Airlines Flight 77. And the Falkenberg family. Charles, Leslie along with children Dana and Zoe also aboard Flight 77. This is also dedicated to Odessa Morris, the budget analyst who worked at the Pentagon. It was an honor to speak with your relatives, and friends. And share your remarkable stories.
When the September 11th attacks occurred…I was working as a cub reporter at a television station in Maryland. It was a beautiful and crisp Tuesday morning. There was nothing unusual about the events that started my work day. I left home. Stopped by Starbucks en route to work to pick up my tall white chocolate mocha and newspaper. I drove to the station prepared to attend our daily news team meeting.
On that fateful September morning…the course of our day rapidly shifted as it had for millions of other people. BREAKING NEWS. Around 8:45 American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Shortly after nine…a second plane rammed into the south tower of the World Trade Center. America was under attack by terrorists. Then after 9:30 there were reports of an explosion at the Pentagon. The horrific images are still ingrained in my mind.
It was very fluid situation. Mayhem. Federal buildings were evacuated. Airports shut down. Businesses and organizations closed early. News crews were dispatched to cover stories at the Pentagon and other locations. Dozens of calls were made to public safety officials. Our news team was relentless covering every angle of this story. We were living and reporting an American tragedy…not knowing if we would be in harms way. Ominous clouds hovered over the nation that day. There was enormous suffering, fear, and anxiety. That night I went home and prayed for the victims and their families.
In the days, weeks and months that followed the nation changed. We united and mourned the loss of the nearly three-thousand people who perished in the attacks. We honored the brave firefighters, and police officers who sacrificed their lives. There were symbols and signs of strength and hope. Displays of patriotism. American flags became more visible. Outside of businesses. In neighborhoods. On vehicle bumper stickers.
People were prideful of this great country. And they showed it. Elementary school kids, college students and community leaders held tribute programs. Prayer vigils took place. Religious leaders held special ceremonies for victims. People volunteered and donated funds to charitable organizations. We were a resilient nation.
I found myself overcome with emotion at times. Covering the ceremonies. When interviewing spouses, children and relatives of 9/11 victims I fought back tears. Part of me was in disbelief that innocent people lost their lives and their relatives were left in shambles. I remember interviewing the husband of Odessa Morris (budget analyst who died at the Pentagon). He broke down crying at one point in the interview. I was devastated. And found myself in tears too over his grief, and the loss of a companionship he spoke of. I get chill bumps revisiting the interview today as I remember 9/11.
Where were you on September 11th? Please, share your thoughts and tributes.