I was half sleeping on the morning of September 11th, 2001 when my phone rang until the answering machine picked up. “Turn on the TV now,” I heard from a friend. As many were that day, I was in disbelief at what I saw. The images were gut wrenching. Working in TV news, I knew I had a busy day waiting for me. I was Assistant Chief Editor at the time. When major breaking news happened, I was generally in charge of producing and editing special video segments that would air at the beginning of the newscast. It set the tone for the broadcast. My assignment this day was no different but the subject matter was unlike any breaking news event that preceded it. For hours, I combed through all the video feeds from ABC News and CNN for any and all video of the disaster. I had to choose the images and interviews that best illustrated the horror and anguish of 9/11.
Sitting in the edit room in Dallas, the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania stung hard every time I watched it. But I focused on my job at hand — recap the days events in an accurate but respectful way.
After the week was over, I had edited about a dozen of these segments. Even though I was mentally fried, I made sure to edit together a compilation of raw video from 9/11. I filed it away never knowing if I’d ever look at it again. The videotape sat on a shelf collecting dust for a few years. I was asked to shoot, edit and produce a piece for the anniversary of 9/11. John McCaa, a colleague of mine at WFAA-TV, was asked ten years earlier to write a commentary about 9/11. As he put it, he “opened up a vein” and put on paper what was in his heart. But his commentary never made it on the air and like my 9/11 file tape, sat dormant for ten years until 2011. It was decided that his commentary would finally air. I was assigned the task of producing and editing the segment of him not only reading his commentary but talking about his own personal experiences in reporting from Manhattan after the attack. I was proud to be associated with the project. It allowed me to open up the history book and remember a day that we should never forget.