Sixteen years ago the world changed forever. Today, like all past 9/11s since the attacks, people on social media reflect and remember where they were that fateful day. I was a father of two young boys at the time. Our oldest was 20 months old, our youngest, just two months old, almost to the date. I was working as a reporter and producer at the CBS affiliate in West Lafayette, Indiana at the time. Tuesdays and Wednesdays were my days off, but I was supposed to go in that Tuesday morning for a meeting.
I had just gotten up when the second plane hit. I watched for a few minutes, quickly realizing this was no accident like the anchors had originally proposed. I hopped in the car and turned on the CBS simulcast of the events unfolding. The announcer said with a great deal of fear in voice, “the Tower is crumbling.” My heart sank as I pulled into the station’s parking lot and continued listening, not wanting to believe what was happening.
Inside the station, everyone was glued to the TV. The meeting we were to have was canceled. Crews slowly started heading out looking for ways to localize the attacks. I was sent back home and told we had enough crews on hand for the day and not enough equipment. I sat staring at the TV all afternoon, flipping through several different channels. I do remember at one point turning off the TV and focusing on my family.
After the attacks, the one thing that stands out to me is how President George W. Bush spoke to the crews at Ground Zero with a megaphone and proclaimed we would not be beaten. You could almost feel the country coming together after a contentious election some 10 months earlier.
Our little community in Greater Lafayette held ceremonies and vigils in the years that followed. There’s a permanent monument still there as well. On the one year anniversary, my boys were among hundreds of others who laid a carnation on one of the pieces of steel from World Trade Center.
In 2014, my wife and I visited the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. Words cannot adequately explain what we experienced during our visit. If you’re ever in New York City, this is a mandatory stop on your tour of the area.
Remember the lives lost that day and those who died in the direct aftermath of the attacks. But also, don’t forget those who served and continue to serve their communities. We will never forget.