I got off the Lodge at Howard Street, just yards from WDIV when Warner Wolfe said live on the air he just watched a second plane slam into the World Trade Center. I knew at that moment this was no accident, it was terrorism and I had better get into the station right away as we were going to go into daylong breaker mode, meaning the breaking story would be our day.
I stepped on the gas and screamed up the parking ramp at the station, grabbed my briefcase and ran to the elevator where I met my executive producer Jennifer Wallace who was also in a full sprint. We exchanged what we knew, terrorism, and ran together into the elevator, tapped our feet waiting for it to descend three floors, ran off the elevator and into the highly animated newsroom.
We joined in on the shouting, the assistant news director trying to decide where to send crews. I said we need to get to Dearborn immediately because this was terrorism. He was not so certain and wanted to be very careful about using the word.
We started looking at what was happening and what we needed to do. I said, "Look if they're hitting tall buildings with economic significance we need to be near the Renaissance Center" and it was agreed. I grabbed my photographer and we drove to Hart Plaza, set up a live signal and got ready for the call to be live on the air. I jumped on the telephone to every auto company in my rolodex. We needed to immediately find out what they were doing to prepare for the possibility of an attack and what they were doing to keep their employees informed and safe.
It was chaos for at least an hour trying to figure out what was happening on the ground in Detroit.
Yet, it was worse in New York and Washington, and then Pennsylvania. For the long hours we spent waiting, watching the network coverage, trying to cope with every horrifying twist and turn of that awful day, I looked up about every five minutes.
I wondered constantly whether every plane that passed overhead carried terrorists. There were many jets, as the entire nation?s air network was ordered grounded and we watched hundreds of planes flying in directions that were not familiar to us coming into Detroit Metro airport just miles up the road. Fortunately for everyone involved that was not the case.
The memories of the lives lost that day still seem surreal. Ten years later we all feel sadness for the families that lost lives that day and more than that, like we have run a horrible gauntlet that led to still more sadness and pain for millions.
9-11 was a fulcrum moment for this nation and a day that will stay with me always.
Ask anyone and most people remember their high school days vividly. But of all the high school memories I made, one day stands out from the rest.
It wasn't when our football team won that championship game or when I got that A on my history exam -- but it was when I was simply sitting in my Algebra 2 class and my principal made an announcement over the loud speaker I would never forget.
My principle directed all teachers to stop their lesson and turn on the television. I remember the vivid image of both towers smoking when my teacher turned on the TV. My entire class watched in silence as the news reports were trying to determine what took place. We left the coverage on as my teacher began to take questions from students. Before the bell rang, my principle came back on over the loud speaker saying our day will go on as usual but if anyone needed it, special counseling would be available throughout the day.
To be honest, I didn't truly realize the impact or truly understand what had happened until I got home. I knew the images I saw on television were horrifying, but I didn't know anyone in New York and only watched the coverage for minutes before school continued as normal. It wasn't until I walked into my house and saw my mother sobbing on the couch as she watched the coverage of the 9/11 attacks. I joined my mom on the couch watched the coverage for hours, that's when I knew all of our lives had changed.
I remember driving into work that morning and noticing what a beautiful, clear, sunny day it was. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. I had the music turned up as I drove along 696 heading to Southfield where worked at another TV station in town.
Within minutes of walking into the newsroom I watched as the planes flew into the towers. I was still holding my bags and my car keys in my hand.
Our morning news team was still on the air. Minutes later I rushed out to Dearborn to start getting community reaction. That's where I spend many long days and nights in the coming weeks. At one point there was a curfew put in place there. My brother was working as an intern for the State Department at the time. My mom and entire extended family was in Egypt. I remember how hard it was getting through to anyone on the phone. Lines were jammed. What a relief it was to find out they were safe.
Later that morning we got word my friend Tara from high school lost her husband in the attacks. They had only been married nearly 4 weeks. I still think about her often and pray for her as well as his family.
We had pagers back then. I worked nights at the ABC-TV station in Cincinnati, Ohio.
My pager started going off while at the same time my phone started to ring.
On the phone, my mom in Dayton. "A plane hit the World Trade Center."
I'd been to the World Trade Center and at the time ComAir in Cincinnati was making news for buying new regional jets.
All I could think that a massive mechanical failure on a small jet like that could cause an accident, or perhaps a small, private plane had hit the tower.