Memories of 9-11: A day that changed the next decade
The twin towers of the World Trade Center burn after hijacked planes crashed into them in New York, Sept. 11, 2001. (AP / Diane Bondareff,)
Angela Mulholland, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Tuesday, September 6, 2011 9:06AM EDT
CTV.ca would like to hear about your memories of Sept. 11, 2001 -- how you first heard the news, where you were, and how you felt as the news sunk in. But first, here is what one of our longtime writers, Angela Mulholland, remembers of what it was like to be in the CTV newsroom that morning.
For many journalists like me, Sept. 11, 2001, was a day of heartbreak and jangled nerves. There was a mixture of wanting to be part of this massive news event, but also wanting to just go home and hug my family.
As an early morning news writer, I was writing up a story – one that I can no longer remember -- when I was asked to flip on CNN. It was just before 9 a.m. and the first images were coming in of a huge fire at one of the World Trade Center towers.
At that point, no one knew what had happened because no news cameras had filmed that first plane hit. The calm-sounding anchor was being cautious with his words: "We're getting reports that a plane, perhaps a twin-engine plane though possibly an airliner -- has flown into the tower…" There was the usual prevaricating: This must be an accident. But how? What no one was suggesting at that point was that it was deliberate.
And then, as we watched, the second plane hit.
There seemed to be a few beats as the shock set in. And then, like a wave, the decibel level in the newsroom shot up. The room quickly filled with shouts and commands being yelled across the room and the sound of ringing phones. I remember the incessant beeping of the newswires, every report coming in highlighted in yellow and orange – the code for urgent news.
Within minutes – I can't remember how long – just about every single CTV reporter, writer and producer had descended on the newsroom. They'd come in from home or wherever they'd been, to do whatever needed to be done to tell the story of what was happening.
Reporting on breaking news is often a bit surreal. There's a certain detachment that's needed to do it, to "stay outside" the story, to see it objectively and not get caught up in the emotions, and drink in their gravity. It's a news event. Different angles of the story need to be assigned, copy needs to be written.
But the absolute horror of what we were watching made this event different.
I think we all stayed on working, long after our usual shifts had ended. It was just too hard to turn away. Perhaps we kept watching, hoping that someone would finally answer the one question we all had: Why?
Ten years later, I'm not sure we have the answers.
Sure, we know every detail of how it happened, and we're pretty certain we know who made it happen. But the answers to the why questions? I think few can agree on those ones.
Today, terrorism is, of course, no less a hot-button topic; nor is the question of what is to become of Afghanistan. Earlier this summer, I wrote a four-part series on the toll taken on Canadians who fought to end terrorism in Afghanistan. In the larger death toll of Sept. 11 and the ensuing Afghan war, Canadians continue to pay a heavy price.
Now we're asking you to tell us what you remember of that day. Where were you when you first heard? And what lessons do you think we've learned?