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My 9/11 experience September 10, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Commentary, Media, Music, News, Personal, Radio, TV.

9/2/20 UPDATE: Original photos have been replaced with higher-quality retouched scans and the links at the bottom removed. A link to a subsequent relevant post was added.

9/16/21 UPDATE: I forgot to mention in my portfolio or the addendum that I was tired and wanted to sleep a little longer before getting ready to go up to campus for class. Classes were either Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday. I think had two or three classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester with the first, public speaking, at 11:30. If I had a 10:00 class, I would have been up sooner, probably seen news break, and seen the second plane hit before leaving my house.

The following is an excerpt from a written summary of a 9/11 portfolio I made at the end of the Fall 2001 semester (December 16) at C.W. Post (9/2/20: now LIU Post) for my Broadcasting 1 course, edited for brevity and accuracy:

It was 9:10 a.m. on September 11. I just wanted to see what Regis [Philbin] and Kelly [Ripa] were talking about [on Live with Regis and Kelly]. So, I put on Channel 7 (WABC), and [saw] John DelGiorno in NewsCopter 7 showing smoke rising from both towers of the World Trade Center. I had no idea how it had happened, but after flipping from station to station, and seeing the various replays, I knew. At the time, it was considered that two planes accidentally crashed into the two towers, especially after the first plane hit, and that perhaps these were [small planes]. But, of course, they were two Boeing 767s; one was American Airlines Flight 11, and the next was United Airlines Flight 175. As more time passed, we got a better idea that this was a terrorist attack of some sort. It was made clear when it was reported that two planes had been hijacked and disappeared from radar, and especially clear when at [9:37], there was a fire at the Pentagon, which turned out to be from American Flight 77. As all this was going on, I tried to go about my regular activities and get ready for my day at C.W. Post. At [9:58], I was in my parents’ bedroom, standing, towel in hand about to shower, watching Channel 4 (WNBC) and listening to Howard Stern, which my parents had on. We were looking live at the two burning towers, and then, as I looked away for a second [at 9:59], I turned back as my dad made a shocking remark. “The building just collapsed,” he said in horror. “Oh, my God.” And I indeed saw the South Tower collapsing in on itself. My heart sank as many stories as the tower; it was the most chilling thing I had seen since United 175 crash[ed] into that same tower. I continued to get ready, now further terrorized, and then at 10:29, as my mom and I were getting into our car to head up to campus, my dad came out the front door. I lowered my window, and he told us that the other tower had collapsed [one minute earlier]. I didn’t know what that looked like until I saw the replay on CNN at the Hillwood Cinema. As I watched the North Tower, with antennas and transmitters, collapse, I let out a long, horrified groan. That is all I will say about how September 11 was for me. …

Classes were suspended in the afternoon and didn’t resume until Thursday. So, I needed a ride home in the mid-afternoon. I couldn’t get through to either of my parents for that ride. When I walked past Humanities Hall, I found my Human Values professor from two semesters prior, John Lutz. Dr. Lutz was gracious enough to give me the ride home I needed. We listened to 1010 WINS for much of what turned out to be a long ride. Traffic was heavy nearly the entire way home. Lutz is still teaching at C.W. Post, now as an associate professor of English (9/10/13: and Chairman of the English Department). If you happen to read this, Dr. Lutz, I can’t thank you enough for your help on that chaotic day ten years ago.

I was so overcome with emotion that I wasn’t in the mood to listen to any music (on CDs or MP3s on the computer) for up to a week. Yet, I had a song in my head that I couldn’t repress. As the song looped, I kept visualizing either the two towers on fire after being hit or the image from NewsCopter 7 – one that got replayed repeatedly – of United 175 flying diagonally into the South Tower. It was chilling, as I said in my summary. When I wasn’t watching the nonstop coverage on that day and the days ahead, I watched syndicated reruns of The Simpsons that I had been taping for a year. (I gave that up in 2006.) It was a therapeutic escape from the insanity of real life.

I’ll conclude this post with a few handful of pictures. These were taken on a return trip to Ground Zero while shooting my senior project: a documentary about Joe Falco, a now-retired FDNY firefighter who survived the collapse of the South Tower:

9/2/20 UPDATE: There were several links at this point in the post, but none of them work anymore. Instead, I refer to a post five years later which includes video of the Joe Falco documentary.



1. Candace - September 11, 2011

It had to be horrifying to watch New York’s skyline be transformed that day.
I was on my way to work and hacked off because I could not find any music on the radio. I was one of those people that never watched the news or cared about anything unless it was directly affecting me personally. 9/11 changed me. I could not help myself. I just had to know everything that I possibly could about everything going on in the world. I became a real news junkie. I simply could not get enough. I have eased off a little but I am still drawn to the news. I will not go around being uninformed again.

2. Lori Downing - September 11, 2013

Thanks for sharing. I would like to view your documentary one day.

3. Mike C. - September 11, 2013

You’re welcome, Lori. I’d be glad to make a copy for you.

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