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Friday, September 9, 2011

REMEMBERING 9-11: WHY IT'S STILL FRESH

I still remember it, clear in my mind although some of the minor details have started to fade. It was a Tuesday. The weather was warm. The sky was a bright shade of blue with very sparse clouds. It was a gorgeous late summer day. I drove the hour-plus to my job at TV job in Connecticut, like I did every day. I arrived around 7am and was enjoying a quiet morning. I worked in Master Control, a room filled with lots of monitors and different television channels. I was sitting a desk off to the side, away from everything, sipping a cup of coffee, checking emails, and updating some log sheets. My coworker Anthony always liked to watch the last hour of Good Morning America, followed by Regis & Kathy Lee. Everything was normal....

At some point I remember him saying, “Hey come look at this”. I walked over and ABC had started talking about a small Cessna that had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York (We later learned it was a large 747). The only initial pictures were from a static camera on top of the Empire State Building. As the next 20 minutes progressed other camera angles had been established and our own channel had begun to cover the events in New York City. I remember a lot of speculation and confusion about what was transpiring. At some point I called my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) and tried to explain to her what was going on. She didn’t have a television at her job. I remember thinking I'd never seen anything like it before – nobody had.

As the time approached 9am, Tony & I were watching multiple monitors with different coverage, all with the same, tight, angled shot that had both towers in it, one with smoke billowing from it. Then Bam - a 747 flew right into the other tower in clear view; broadcast around the world on live television.

At some point later in the morning I decided to walk over to the newsroom to see if I could do anything to help out. I sat down on the corner of a desk and this guy Will came over, sat next to me and bluntly said, “Some shit, huh?” I looked at him, shook my head, looked back to monitors on the wall, just to see the first tower drop out of camera view, buckling under its own weight. Right then everything seemed to slow down for me. It was like one of those scenes from the movies where everything around the main character is swirling around them in a blur.

The day went on very solemnly. Everyone did their jobs, really only talking when necessary. It was very strange being as far away as we were (about 40 miles) yet it felt like it was my backyard. I remember driving home that day, listening to an afternoon talk show that was about as serious as it gets. People were calling in talking about what floor of the towers they worked on and how they escaped or why they weren’t at work that day.

During the day the FAA ground all commercial flights in the US and my house was near an airport. Later that night I remember standing outside taking in the cool night air, trying to come to grips with what had happened earlier in the day and realizing how eerie it was to not hear anything overhead. Its one of those noises you don’t even realize you hear until its not there anymore.

In the days following I remember feeling some anger, but mostly a sense of pride and patriotism as those little annoying things people do, didn’t really seem to matter. We were all Americans and we all were feeling the same way. People were more courteous, kinder, dare I say - less self-absorbed.

MLB and the NFL both took a week off and rightly so. With so much going on, it wasn’t a time for playing games. Although as the days passed, Baseball was something I looked for… a distraction; some normalcy. When it was time to return the Yanks were on the road. However, the Mets were home.I remember a very touching pre-game ceremony. A bunch of surviving first responders were on the field. The Mets also had a replica skyline above their scoreboard and it was lit up at night. On this night, everything was illuminated up except the Twin Towers. Touchingly a red, white, and blue ribbon had been placed over the darkened section of the skyline. Even today, that image still sticks with me.

The following Sunday, before the Yanks returned home, the Stadium hosted a memorial service for the souls lost on that fateful day. Watching the families of those who died, gathered in the Grand Cathedral of Baseball, surrounded by the ghosts of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Thurman Munson, celebrating life and the spirit and resolve of New Yorkers… I can’t think of a more fitting place.



-- Lem Allen, BYB Freelance Writer
bybcurmudgeon@gmail.com




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