Thursday, September 11, 2008

What are your memories of 9/11?

We all remember where we were when we first heard the news .. saw the video ... and told someone else.

We all remember that we couldn't sleep that night and how we awoke on the 12th hoping it had all been a dream.

On this seventh anniversary, we invite you to share your memories and read others in a special section on our website at

The attacks of 9/11 certainly touched us all .. and I'll hope you'll share your thoughts both here and on

Here's a compilation of what my co-workers at Channel 3 remember from that unforgettable day.

and here's my memories as I posted on

9/11 still feels like a nightmare, even today.

I was home when the first plane hit, and when the second one pounded the other tower, I quickly jumped into the shower so I could get to work early. No reason to wait for the bosses to call; I knew immediately that as a TV journalist, it was time to get in to the office.

I was driving down Market Street in Akron when I heard a report on WAKR-AM that the Pentagon had been hit. At that moment, I realized that the whole country -- and not just New York City -- was in danger.

I arrived in the newsroom and tried to call a news crew that was over at the Summit County Courthouse to tell them to blow off the story they were on and get to the Akron-Canton Airport for reaction. Unfortunately, the judge made them turn off their cell phone so I couldn't reach them.

Videogapher Carl Bachtel and I watched in horror as the first tower fell. It wasn't long before the decision was made to carry local programming on the PAX channel (23) while WKYC carried NBC's national coverage.

We had live interviews with local ministers, a defense expert, and Akron-area residents who had relatives in New York. We also were reporting all of the closures, including the University of Akron and many of the larger Akron businesses.

I remember a call from a woman who asked me, "is it safe to drive?" I told her, "I think so." I realized right then that our lives had changed forever.

I remember saying to an intern, "next to Jesus Christ coming back as promised in the Bible, I don't know that we'll ever see a bigger news day."

Ironically, a news crew from PBS 45/49 was here that day to record video of our newsroom "in action" for a series PBS was doign on local news. Under the circumstances, I was surprised the crew stayed that day. Every time I review that documentary and I see the video of the people in our Akron newsroom working the phones and running around, I remind myself that it was 9-11.

At the end of the night, I was just exhausted .. like everyone else.

I also remember not being able to sleep, and waking up the next morning in time to see the beginning of the Today Show -- just to make sure I hadn't been dreaming.

For the next few nights, our Channel 3 and PAX23 newscasts aired commercial free .. so we all had to turn multiple stories to fill the newscast. It was a tremendous challenge because of the few staffers we had no duty, but we all pulled together to get the news on the air.

When I wasn't here in the newsroom, I was packing my bags .. assuming that the National Guard unit I was commanding would soon be called to duty. While my unit wasn't mobilized as part of the immediate security call-up, I was mobilized a little more than a year later as we headed to Iraq.

All of that started with 9-11. Eric


vanillacokehead said...

I was still living in the Seattle area when 9/11 took place. It was a little before 6:00 am - and I was waiting for the bus to go to the ferry terminal - and the other guy waiting for the bus said an airplane had flown into one of the WTC towers (he was listening on headphones to his radio).

As we got on the ferry, we found out another plane flew into the other tower. I remember the somber atmosphere in the cabin of the ferry that morning - and the most popular place during the ride in to Seattle was in one corner of the passenger cabin, where someone had news coverage of the attacks playing on his portable TV.

At work, people were shaken - news coverage was on the TV in the main conference room - not much work got done that day - and our bosses finally told us to go home at about 12:00 noon. And it felt like forever trying to call my wife - the cell networks and regular phone network were jammed. When I finally got home that afternoon, I gave my wife the longest and tightest hug ever...

Rita said...

That morning I turned on the TV to watch Regis and the news was on showing the first tower that was hit. Then before we knew it the second plane flew into the second tower. I couldn't believe I was watching it live.
My daughter was a student at Kent State and was in the Army National Guard. She called me totally freaked out and told me she and her best friend also in the Guard were going to another friends house (also in the Guard) to watch the news. I couldn't stop watching the TV and crying for those people who died, their families, and the fear of my daughter being in the military. That day more of her friends gathered together to watch, all in the Guard. And all served in Iraq together. They all came home except for one. We will never forget.

buck said...

I was working as a special ed aide at Shaker Heights High School when all of the TVs were turned on in the classrooms. The students I was working with, while physically were typical high school kids, most of them, mentally/socially were grade school kids. It gave me a unique perspective. One girl was going around shielding her head, asking me if Shaker Heights was going to be attacked. Others thought that the news was "showing a movie." No one could fathom that people hated America so much to do such a thing.