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Sept. 11, 10 years later
September 12, 2011 - Jodelle Greiner
I wasn’t planning to, but I watched one of the 9/11 10th anniversary shows Sunday morning. I think it was the History Channel that was showing video that was shot that morning, some by news crews, some by regular people.
The videos were run in real time, minute by minute, and it really brought it home for me. I was in Texas that morning, getting ready to go to work when I heard the news on the car radio. Of course we followed it as breaking news and saw the photos, but it’s not the same as living it. That’s what the videos showed me.
One of the things that struck me the hardest was how much time went by between the towers falling. They did not fall in quick succession or even within a few minutes of each other. The videos had emergency personnel talking back and forth with other personnel in the remaining tower, trying to figure out how to get help to them. In one of the most poignant parts, it showed firefighters marching into the tower, just minutes before it fell.
Watching those videos, I now understand much better what New Yorkers went through that day. The rest of the country was removed from the actual impact, but they were not. To the rest of the nation, the Twin Towers were icons, just a part of a pretty city skyline. To New Yorkers, they were part of their everyday lives. They were the ones who saw the towers burning, not through the lens of a camera and the screen of a television, but right there in front of them. They were the ones who ran for their lives from falling debris and were covered in gray ash, along with everything around them. And they were the ones who had to clean up the mess and every day see that bare space in the sky where two towers should have been.
Being a reporter, I felt for the broadcast news people who shot the video. They were told to go back, to move away with the rest of the people; sometimes they did, only to come back from another direction to get a different angle. Sometimes the people they asked for reactions talked to them, sometimes not. But no matter what, they kept shooting video.
To some, that seems callous: we’d just undergone one of the worst things in memory and someone is there taking pictures like it’s a tourist attaction — or so they think. A journalist’s job, whether print or broadcast, is to record history as it’s happening. That way we have a permanent record of it. I’m glad there were people who did their best to record what was happening; it’s helped me understand the event from someone else’s view and maybe those videos will help future generations understand what 9/11 means to those who lived through it and why it changed this nation.
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