Like the assassination of JFK for some people, or the Challenger explosion for others, 9/11 is one of those life changing events that is forever etched in the minds of those who lived through it. No doubt, you remember exactly what you were doing and where you were when you heard the news. So do I.
In radio, an aircheck is a recording of your show. It consists of just your talk breaks. Many times your boss brings you in to listen to a past show together. You listen to the breaks you did, talk about what was good, what was bad, how to improve your performance and so on. On September 11, 2001, I was in my boss’s office going over a show.
I was working at B95 in Flint at the time. Brian Cleary was my boss. We had just listened to a break where I told a stupid joke when our morning gal, Kristine Turner, came in to tell us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. At the time we all thought it was some sort of freak accident. We walked out of the office and down to the newsroom. The TV was on and there was a live shot of the World Trade Center with smoke pouring out of it. Even the news people on the air were talking about how this was some sort of accident. And then we watched as the second plane hit the other tower on live TV!
At this point, we understood that this was going to be no ordinary day. When I went on the air at 10am, I became the link to what was going on to people without access to TVs at work. I recall breaking format and playing news updates. I remember the South Tower collapsed just before I went on the air. We then heard of Flight 93 going down in Pennsylvania. Then came the news of the North Tower collapsing just before 10:30am. It was the busiest and craziest day of my radio career. I remember staying after my shift and manning the canopy that we had set up in the parking lot to take donations for the people in New York. I also remember being exhausted when we wrapped up for the night. We all knew that the days and weeks ahead were going to be VERY different.
I don’t think any of us knew just how much the world was going to change that day. My ex and I had just found out that we were expecting our first child, who was due in April of 2002. I remember being scared about the world that our baby was coming into. What we also didn’t realize was how these horrible events would bring our nation together.
What follows is something that I posted on Facebook last year and reposted today:
“18 years ago today the people of this country forgot all about race, gender, political stance, religion, and stood together as one after the events of 9/11. What followed was a surge of patriotism that hadn’t been seen since World War II. American Pride soared. Today the country is extremely divided, and not just into two parts, but many.
Today we live in a country where everything seems to offend somebody. We tend to forget that the things of the past have made us and this country what it is today. History is history. We can look back in hindsight and see that there were things in the past that were (at the time) considered to be okay, but now we know they are not. We study history, to learn the things not to repeat. We also study history, to show us the things that worth repeating. Let’s take a lesson from history, a day 18 years ago, let’s put away the divisions. Let’s remember that no matter what race, color, or gender you are, we are all human beings.
There are plenty of scientific studies to show that it takes more effort to frown than to smile, and to hate rather than love. Today, as we remember those people who were on the planes, in the towers, in the Pentagon, or were first responders… remember the love, sadness, and the patriotism that brought this country together. Life can change in an instant. Practice kindness. Love one another.”
The emotions of that day will never be forgotten. We will never forget the acts of heroism we witnessed or the outpouring of support that was shown by Americans everywhere. The uniting of a nation is one that I will always remember. Today I remember the people whose lives that were cut short. I remember the innocent. I remember the heroes.
Today I reflect and remember. I hope you will too.