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John Mercure: Mercurey Rising

911: It's So Hard to Believe It's Been 11 Years

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    It’s a day I will never forget.

   11 years ago today we were attacked.  We were violated.  We were terrified. I'm having a tough time wrapping my head around the fact that it has been 11 years since that tragic day when terrorists turned airplanes into weapons.

   Like most Americans I will never forget where I was on the morning of the attack.  In the mornings 11 years ago, I generally didn't turn on the TV or listen to the radio.  I was a young reporter at Today's TMJ4. I got to the station at about 8:30am.  It was still pretty quiet.  Days generally began about 9:00am and ran for about ten hours.

   As I came into the newsroom, my News Director, Jeff Kiernan, approached me and asked me what I was working on for the day.  I told him that I was getting ready to head to Rockford, Illinois for an I-Team piece that would air in about six weeks.

   "No. You're going to the airport.  Now," Kiernan told me as he pointed at the bank of huge TV monitors in the newsroom.  It was a stunning sight.  All eight monitors has the same picture; smoke and flames pouring from the World Trade Center towers in New York City.

   I couldn't even comprehend what I was seeing.  "What kind of terrible accident happened there?" I asked myself.

   It soon became shockingly apparent that this was no accident.

   What I found at the airport was a sea of stunned travelers.  It looked like a scene out of a zombie movie. People were crying.  I saw one woman running through the concourse with her small son screaming. Everyone looked dazed and confused.  At Mitchell International there are a couple of big TVs in the concourse area surrounded by sofas, and arrival/ departure monitors.  There were so many people crowded around the large TVs that I could barely see them.

   I nudged my way in to try to get a look at the TVs.  Just as I caught a glimpse off the screen, the North Tower collapsed into a cloud of dust.  The lady next to me dropped to her knees. There were gasps, and tears.  I turned around to see if my photographer was capturing all of this on videotape.  He was not.  Like the rest of us, he was stunned. 

   We spent the next three days at the airport.  Flights were grounded and so were all the dazed people. No one arrived. And it seemed that no one left.

   It’s a day I will never forget.


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