I thought that a Cessna would look like a fly splattered against one of the towers.
When I turned on the TV, I couldn't wrap my mind around what I was looking at.
I jumped in the shower, and on my shower radio another plane hit. The United States was under attack.
I went straight to the station in time to see our anchor on the air relaying news about the airport closing near Cincinnati and on a split screen, the first tower came down.
She didn't say a word about it.
It was surreal. ABC News showed a clip of people celebrating in the streets of some middle eastern country. Then they stopped showing scenes like that.
I spent hours at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky airport doing live reports about passengers being stranded.
Hundreds of business travelers and families were stuck. The more reports we did, the more the caring people of the northern Kentucky area drove to the airport offering food, rides to hotels, many even opened their homes to the stranded travelers.
It was intense. Never was I near a television to see how things in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania were unfolding.
I couldn't see any of the footage coming out of those areas as I worked into the night.
Eventually I was standing alone in a giant airport waiting to do one of the final reports there for the night. I went home at 1:30am. Turned on the news, and for the first time I saw the home video footage of a plane being flown into a tower.
I couldn't help it, but I started to cry.
My recollections of that day are still so incredibly vivid.
I was standing in my kitchen talking to my mother, getting ready for work. The Today show was on in the background. I heard Matt Lauer say that a plane had struck a tower at the World Trade Center. I turned to my television set as they were replaying the video and I froze. All of a sudden on live television, I saw the second plane hit.
I started crying. It only lasted about a minute and I told my mother I had to go. I had to go to work
called the studio and said I was on my way in. I was told I wasn't needed, yet. Everything was okay. And I said, "Yes I am. We just don't know it, yet."
I raced to get dressed and was on my way out the door when the studio called back and asked how fast I could get in. I told them I was already on my way.
As journalists, we didn't know what was happening, yet. We just knew it was something bad. We knew we had to collect sound from people and gather impressions and get on the air.
It seemed so far away, but it was just outside our emotional door.
I remember going to shopping centers and stores and they had closed. Restaurants had closed. There were no planes in the air because the FAA had shut down all air travel. But while on live TV from an empty store parking lot, I remember looking up and seeing a plane and being afraid. I mentioned it in my live shot, that normally I wouldn't have paid attention to a plane high in the sky, but on that day it looked huge, and ominous.
I think the thing people don't realize is that as journalists, we were immersed in the horror of what had happened and what was happening next. We saw the raw video that we couldn't allow the public to see. We were going through hours and hours and hours of tape of people looking for loved ones, talking about being inside the buildings and trying to get out alive, but leaving others behind. I remember hearing the story of the little boy, Bernard Brown who was taking his first solo trip on a plane--a school field trip. It was flight 77, the same plane that struck the Pentagon, where his father happened to work. How does something like that happen? How do you forget?
As journalists, we were processing all of this tragedy and horror and didn't have time to grieve ourselves because we had to get the news on the air. As journalists we were deprived of the freedom to be shocked, saddened and stopped. We didn't have that ability because we had to perform. We had to get on the air. And then the few times we went home, instead of resting we watched the video re-playing on various non-stop coverage news shows over and over of those planes hitting those towers. And the billowing smoke. And the flames dripping to the ground like a waterfall.
I was completely traumatized, but I wasn't able to show it. I just had to work.
I often think, I only had a minute to grieve that day--literally a minute. That was it.