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9/11: Oh, the humanity.

In Media, National News, Opinion, Politics on September 5, 2011 at 6:52 am

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines

I don’t know which is harder to believe; that it has been ten years or that it really did happen. Unprecedented in the history of the United States, the events of September 11, 2001 changed lives around the world.

The savage, heart wrenching images of that morning are forever emblazoned into the collective memories of a generation. A horrible tragedy set against the clear, blue sky of Manhattan. Those of us watching from other parts of the country felt it right along with New Yorkers; the tragedy, the helplessness, the pain, the destruction, the hot, debris-filled wind that would sweep over our nation and rock us to our very core.

The day before the attacks, I had returned to Ohio from a week-long trip in Las Vegas. A co-worker heard on the radio that there had been some kind of bombing in New York City and was frantically trying to find information about it on the Internet. But CNN’s website would not come up, neither would CBS nor NBC. In fact, none of the major news sites were available. Millions of hits at once knocked down the websites before any of us could find out what had happened.

Retrieving a 3-inch color television from my truck, several of my colleagues huddled around my desk trying to get a look at the replay of the first plane flying into one of the World Trade Center towers when the unthinkable happened. A second plane ripped through the remaining tower and it too burst into flames. Shock and silence settled over the motley crew of engineers and technicians gathered around the tiny screen.

Ten years later, we’ve all seen those images over and over again, from virtually every angle. We’ve been deluged time and again with eye-witness interviews and video of the brave emergency response teams trying desperately to save as many lives as they could in the midst of utter chaos and destruction.

Many of the morning television news programs originating from New York had instant coverage of the disaster. Reminiscent of Herbert Morrison’s anguished report from the site of the Hindenburg crash, live broadcast reporters were overwhelmed by pure emotion, moved to tears by the terror they witnessed. Morrison was the radio announcer on the scene in Lakehurst, New Jersey that day in 1937 as the great Zeppelin exploded and crashed to the ground.

Sent by a Chicago radio station to cover the airship’s arrival, the recording of Morrison’s immortal delivery and genuine disgust for the disastrous scene before him became the prototype for how broadcasters would report tragedy and war for decades to come. I wonder, at times, how he might have described the scene that day in New York but I believe his most famous phrase is more than sufficient, “Oh the humanity.”

Actually, even after the hundreds of news stories about the terror attacks, it’s difficult to fathom what else could be said to describe one of the worst days in American history. I can say, though, that I believe the days that followed 9-11 brought about an amazing spirit of survival and determination in our country.

From unmitigated calamity arose an unparalleled sense of unity and patriotism. Americans had spent the last half-century bickering amongst themselves over political and social issues. For the first time since the Second World War, we had a common enemy, even if we were not yet sure who it was. What we did know, however, is that the United States would recover, as a people and a nation; and we did.

On the tenth anniversary of that fateful day, all Americans send thoughts, prayers and best wishes to the families and friends of those who perished in New York, at the Pentagon and in the fields of Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania. Nothing can return their loved ones to them but they will be forever remembered by a nation.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist based in Jamestown, Ohio. Read more at http://www.deerinheadlines.com

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