WLOX shares its stories of 9/11

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - This time 10 years ago, I was 13-years-old.  Earlier that day, I had been in my eighth grade history class when the twin towers fell.  Our school principal had quickly informed all the teachers, but decided not to tell the students in fear that it might be too upsetting.

I remember watching the principal whisper the news in my teacher's ear.  Her name was Mrs. Davis.  An eternally chipper woman, she was an avid traveler and engaged her students by teaching history as if she had been there.  This time she was.

I could see Mrs. Davis's face fall at the news.  While we did not yet understand the full scope of her obvious distress, we knew something was terribly wrong when she led our public school class in prayer.

I didn't hear the full news until I returned home that afternoon.  Ten years later, it still doesn't seem real.

Stories like this one have echoed around the newsroom this week, as I am sure they have in buildings throughout the nation.  As journalists, we tend to view events without being a part of them.  In the style of Edward R. Murrow and Tom Brokaw, we are third person narrators jotting down the facts for a first draft of history.  On September 11th, that is an impossible task and each time a story is told, the universal shock and devastation bubbles up anew.

Meteorologist Carrie Duncan was in Greenville, North Carolina.  She had just started her day when the terrible images of the second plane hitting began playing across her television screen.

"It was like watching train wreck. You couldn't take your eyes off of it. It was so sad hearing everything," she recounted.

Morning anchor Rhonda Weidner was on the WLOX set.  She says moments after the planes hit, she was on the phone interviewing then Mississippi Senator Trent Lott even as he was in the tunnels under the Capitol building, being moved to safety with other congressional members.

However, her most vivid memory from the event was months later as she traveled to New York to see Ground Zero and send reports back.

"The first thing I saw was that memorial wall. Strangely enough, the first sign I saw was from some Ole Miss fans; a Mississippi Sign that said 'Our hearts go out to all of you from everyone in Mississippi. God love America,'" she said.

Anchor Dave Elliot was at home, getting ready to go into WLOX.  He says he was in his kitchen when his son, who was then just 12, rushed in urging him to turn on the television.

Elliot recalls looking at the violence through the eyes of a reporter.

"My journalism is starting to kick in and I'm thinking, why did this happen? Who did this?" he said.

He says it wasn't until later that day that he was able to turn off the reporter mentality, and allow the anger and fear to come to the surface.

Like me, producer and weekend reporter Michelle Lady was in school.  She was a high school junior at Our Lady Academy.

"I remember my history teacher turning on the television and she said right here is history in the making. You'll never forget this and she was right," she said.

It is ten years later, and each of us can recall that day as easily as we can our birthdays.  I'm sure that these memories will echo for many years more.

While remembering September 11th can be depressing, it is important.  We remember because we lost so much.  We remember because of the heroes who were made that day.  We remember because it changed our country forever.

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