We all have our stories of 9/11, and mine is no more interesting than anyone else’s.
Because of the nature of my job at the time as managing editor at Washington Post Newsweek Interactive’s Newsbytes.com, once I recovered my wits enough to work, I spent the day working on stories about Verizon’s cell phone service essentially going dead in New York and Washington, D.C., owing to a massive surge in traffic and the destruction of Verizon’s infrastructure by the collapse of the Towers.
As I say, not terribly interesting, and at this point totally inconsequential.
But for much of the 8 a.m. hour CST that day, I stood before a TV in my basement staring, which is where my sense of gratitude comes in. The towers burned, the Pentagon was struck. The reality of terrorism hit us all like brick to the head. Were planes simply going to come flying at us all, like jet-fueled darts at some giant topographic dart board?
I will long remember the gentle, calm voice of Hopkins, Minn., native and former CNN anchor Aaron Brown, shepherding me and a mass audience of terrified Americans through the greatest moment of national crisis that most of us had ever experienced.
Especially as the towers fell, Brown managed to strike the perfect note of rational, empathetic and knowing calm. We were all terrified. He must have been terrified. But his reasonable voice probably helped prevent millions of people, people like me, from spinning out into sheer, blind panic.
Brown should have been forever enshrined by CNN for the job he did that day, but instead his career ended ignominiously several years later.
But I will always be grateful for his calm voice of sanity in the midst of the craziest day of our lives.