9/11 attacks — How Dennis, and NJ, remember that day
Freshmen in college this year have no recollection of 9/11 and for many people in the early 20s there's a vague memory of something bad happening that day. For the rest of us in New Jersey, there are stories of where we were, who we called first, how we spent the rest of that day and who we lost.
New Jersey lost the second highest number of it's citizens that day, 749, surpassed only by New York. Towns like Middletown, Hoboken and Basking Ridge lost so many people the feeling was like it happened right there in those towns.
I was driving to work when I heard Eric Scott reporting it on our 9 a.m. news. Then Jim Gearhart took calls from people watching from the Jersey side. It just seemed so unreal, I didn't know what to expect when I got to the station. Grown men were crying and the look of panic on everyone's face is an image that sticks in my mind. I was on alone that day and took calls from people fleeing the scene on foot, listeners stuck inside buildings nearby and angry callers who were screaming about who to blame and who to bomb first.
We generally do a pretty light show with plenty of laughs and cutting up. This was something completely out of the ordinary and I just went into a controlled chaos mode and tried to remain calm. It occurred to me right away that we were the main source of information and direction for a huge population that was directly affected by what was going on and whatever was going to happen next. Every word I said and how I said it was affecting people more that day than it ever had or ever would since.
That was the scariest part of the early part of the day. What in the world was going to happen next? Where was the next target? Who was orchestrating this and was our world coming to an end? We all called family, schools, babysitters, friends and many were desperately calling loved ones in those towers and the surrounding Lower Manhattan.
Every year at this time I watch every documentary that was made about that day even if I've seen it before. There's a strange feeling of wanting to remember exactly how we all felt that day, no matter how painful, frightening and horrific it was. For some, the memory of that day is just too much to relive.
The weeks and months following that day brought so many of us together in a way I had never seen before or since. Do you remember all the American flags people flew on their cars for months after? Do you remember the feeling of people coming together as Americans no matter what our differences? If you don't, I hope you get to see it without the kind of tragedy it took to get us there. It's a shame that it takes that kind of horror to realize we are all Americans and among the luckiest people on the planet to be here in this time period, no matter how crazy we think our situation is today.
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