I awoke, like many others in America, to television pictures of jetliners imbedded in the World Trade Center. There also was a graphic along the bottom of CNN saying, “Attack On America.”
And now, another anniversary. I will not compare myself to those who died in the attack or their families. Nor am I in a class with the brave police and fire personnel in New York who worked at Ground Zero. Nor am I up to the efforts of the United States government that responded so well to the al-Qaida attack.
I was in journalist mode on Sept. 11, 2001, in my home in Orange County, CA. I was a copy-editor type in the newsroom of The Orange County Register newspaper who soon was to be pressed into duty more rigorous and emotional than any that I recall in my career. This was not about the recruitment of a star football player, or the election of a politician. This was not a trial that involved a sitting U.S. president, or a trial involving a well-known rock musician.
This was about war, cold-blooded and coordinated killing of 3,000 people on U.S. soil. This was about this generation’s Pearl Harbor.
This was about a victim from local soil. Rancho Santa Margarita — a south Orange County town that was my home for eight years — unfortunately lost one of its own in the attack, Lisa Frost, then 22.
This was about the most well-coordinated and galvanized newsroom I have ever been a part of. This was about the Register’s front-page headline, “Day of Evil.”
This was about Register Publisher N. Christian Anderson III leaving a voice mail for all newsroom personnel advising that the paper would put out an “extra.” Yes, I helped with it.
This was about my mother calling from Atlanta for the newsman’s perspective.
This was about President George W. Bush, whose controversial election the year before was still fresh in Americans’ minds, standing strong in the World Trade Center rubble (see above video).
This was about people riding along The OC’s famous freeways with the U.S. flag as their window car banner.
This was about the courageous passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 — the one that crashed in southwestern Pennsylvania — who organized a spirited counterattack on board the plane. Of the four planes hijacked on 9/11, this was the only one that failed to reach its intended target.
And this was about a special woman friend of mine from nearby Mission Viejo taking me out for a nice birthday dinner after I worked on the big day. (It’s Sept. 16, if you must know.)
So the only thing about me in all this is what I think happened to America because of the attack. (Incidentally, this is the first time I’ve ever written a retrospective, either print or online, about 9/11).
America? We’re still here. And better and stronger than ever.