Before Sept. 11, 2001, the date that always stood out in my mind was Nov. 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. I was a mere 7-year-old second grade student when that tragic day rocked the country.
Fast forward 38 years to what I assumed would be a fairly routine day at the daily newspaper in Williamson, West Virginia, where I served as editor. As was the norm, I grabbed the phone to check with the news editor before I would get ready to head to the office.
Audrey asked if I had the television on. I said “No” and she said “Turn it on.” “What channel?” “It doesn’t matter -- turn it on.” A scene unlike any image I’d ever seen covered the TV screen.
We shared our shock and start planning for coverage. I knew I had to get to the office as soon as possible.
The airplanes striking the Twin Towers in New York City was repeated over and over in a surreal airing.
My mind was swirling as I hurried to get ready for what I knew would be a long, busy news day; the adrenalin had already kicked in.
Audrey and Charlotte, our senior writer, had mapped out a plan, with both having contacts in the affected areas, including the Towers and the Pentagon. It was remarkable to learn how many local connections there were to what had been taking place in three locations.
We were cool and organized, knowing what we had to do. There wasn’t time to free ourselves of the emotions stirring within us.
Staff members were coming in and out of my office to view any updates on the TV news. I was continually following Associated Press content.
Despite the horror that we all knew had occurred that morning, the newsroom was buzzing with the goal of providing as much local coverage as possible about a national disaster. I still have that edition in a box among other career mementos. If memory serves me correctly, we had five or six local stories. The AP article was in the lead position, with a 200 point headline (that’s really big!).
As we prepared to release the pages to the press crew, exhaustion settled over us. But we were satisfied that we had given our best to our readers. That’s always the priority.
Our world changed that day 18 years ago, and for those of us that worked diligently to inform our community it was a day we’ll never forget.
Yes, we did take time as the presses started rolling to offer prayers for the victims, survivors, families and friends of all involved.
Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001? It’s a date we’ll never forget . . .