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Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11 Memories

This post is a slightly more fleshed out version of some thoughts I wrote down not long after the tragic events of 9/11/2001. Since this weekend is the 10th anniversary of those attacks, I thought I would share my experience and memories.

In 2001 I was 22 years old, and had been working as a Page at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York for about 3 months. Pages were essentially temp workers for the network. We would fill in for people on vacation in almost
every department. We also worked for a couple of live TV shows filming in the Center in audience services, moving audiences in and out of the building in a safe, orderly manner.

I had just gotten to work at the CBS Broadcast Center on the upper west side of NYC. I remember my immediate supervisor coming in a few minutes later and informing us that a small plane had hit one of the World Trade Center Towers. The pages were all a little incredulous (it was a clear day, no clouds at all) and we went to watch on the TV monitor in the next room. Most of the conversation was along the lines of “what stupid idiot did that?”

Then we saw the second plane hit. I knew almost immediately that it wasn't an accident. The plane was too big, the flight path too deliberate.

I remember the dread I felt that morning. Each attack seemed timed so that just as you were getting over the shock of one thing happening, the next thing happened. The plane hit the tower, then reports of

I remember the chaos as we informed people waiting to get into the show I was working on what had happened, and told them we were cancelling the taping and that they had to leave. I remember the security team for the show, which was made up of retired cops, taking charge. Being that we were a media center, there was a fear that we would be hit by something. Again, it was chaos, no one knew how big the attack was or how organized or anything. the Pentagon being hit. Then the first WTC Tower falling, and on and on it seemed at the time.

I remember that my parents were vacationing in New Hampshire and someone else was staying at our house to take care of my elderly grandparents. I remember calling her to make sure she knew I was okay. She informed my parents I was okay. That was the first they heard about the attack.

I remember working on a security detail for the Center, escorting people without a CBS ID into the building to wherever they were going. I remember Charlie Rose throwing a fit when he was informed he

couldn’t just walk in because he had forgotten his ID badge. I remember Mel Karmazin, the head of Viacom which owns CBS, waiting patiently when informed of the same thing.

I remember seeing the Naudet brothers come in, all dusty and sweaty, with their camera containing the footage of the first plane hitting the Towers, as well as their experience being with a group of firefighters who were on the scene. I didn't know any of that at the time.

I remember being transferred to work in the Hard News center, logging a live feed of the aftermath.

I remember going up to the roof of the building to see the smoke plume rising in the distance for myself.

I remember the smell when the wind changed. It had been blowing away from Manhattan toward Brooklyn for most of the day. It was a horrible, acrid smell.

I remember the eerie feeling of seeing no cars on the streets in NYC, just a few buses and taxis, as I walked through Times Square to a friend’s apartment to stay the night. I remember seeing the Empire State Building standing in the distance, dark.

I remember it all happening only a few miles away.

What do you remember?

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