For NJ, 9/11 was all too personal — a look back on the day
The entire country and much of the world will remember this day with sadness and horror over what played out on TV screens everywhere. For many of us living here in New Jersey at that time, it was a gut punch that took many years to recover from and some have not recovered still. So many people, especially in the northern half of this state were touched by that day more than almost anywhere in the country outside of NYC. The neighbors, classmates, parents, friends and close loved ones who died that day affected a lot of people who call New Jersey home. Although the country holds this day in deep reverence and regret, people here have very personal stories to tell.
It's important to keep those stories alive and accurate, not only to honor those we lost but to remember the lessons learned that day. The most important lesson is that life if fleeting and can be taken away in an instant. The best way to honor those lost in that instant in time is to live life with a greater appreciation and a life with honor. There have been countless memorials and ceremonies for those who died that day, but for those of us with that personal connection, with best way to show our respect is to appreciate life itself. Also, appreciate the country we were blessed to be born in or adopt as our home. For all of the faults we have, that have been debated more since that day, it's still the best place on Earth to be. Period.
A handful of us here were fortunate enough to report on that day's events as they unfolded, live and in real time. Yes, I was fortunate to be on the air that day as the towers came down and planes were ordered grounded across the country. It was a peculiar spot to be in, but it was an important one. For a lot of people in New Jersey, we were their direct source for what was going on and a conduit for the public to share information and give instant updates. This was pre-social media, pre-smart phones and cell phones weren't in everybody's possession. I remember taking calls from people who were angry, frustrated and scared as hell. As it was happening, there were far more questions than answers about the unfolding hell.
The sense of fear and panic was something I had never experienced before and hope to never again. When I arrived at the station in the morning, after listening to Jim Gearhart and Eric Scott on my drive in, the first person I remember seeing was our boss in tears. He was a strong guy who I'd never seen shaken and there he was staring up at a TV screen with tears rolling down his face. I knew it was going to be a bad day. We just had no idea how bad.
You can hear the audio of that morning here.
More from New Jersey 101.5: