On this anniversary, we look back to Sept. 11, 2001
It is something we do from time to time, as we hit a day on the calendar, a certain time of year, or hearing a story told by someone else.
Sometimes it is a smell that triggers a memory. The aroma from a kitchen where pancakes are being prepared always takes me back to early summer mornings with my cousins at my grandmother's cottage on Pike Lake.
Today if you caught any media coverage, or attended one of the various memorial services around town, the image of the planes hitting the World Trade Center Towers in New York is a memory that cannot be ignored.
All of us alive 12 years ago today, can remember where we were when we first heard the news. Those of us in media, who were working at the time, can remember consuming the information that was streaming in when new details were available.
My colleagues at the Post-Crescent, a daily newspaper in Appleton, put together eight editions that day. At that time, the paper had an afternoon delivery, and there were two remakes of the home-delivered paper and six editions of an "EXTRA" that ran on newsstands in Appleton, Green Bay, Fond du Lac, Manitowoc, Sheboygan and Oshkosh. These were the days before the internet, when updates would have just been constant on the paper's website.
In Milwaukee, the Journal-Sentinel staff produced multiple editions for subscribers and newsstands throughout the state. National news outlets took over the coverage on local affiliate stations. Local reporters and producers were scrambling to cover the angles from Milwaukee, searching for families that may have lost loved ones in the attack.
They also covered the skyrocketing gas prices, that hit up to $5 a gallon at local stations.
Storytellers have an important role in our society. On that day, it was covering the terrible attacks of the morning, the destruction and loss of life, and the humanity that poured out of people's souls from the firefighters, police officers and first responders that went rushing into a building that was about to collapse. We heard the reports of Americans across the country lowering flags to half staff, uniting in solidarity and mourning, answering the call to head to centers to donate blood.
Today is a day to look back at what happened. To remember the day for what took place.
The journalists covered the events so that we could, in the future, look back and review a record kept within context of the times.
We look at where the media is today, and the collective society we live in, we notice the differences. We have given up personal freedoms, soldiers spilled blood, our nation's debt grew by trillions of dollars to cover the war and military actions that followed.
My family and I were on a road trip vacation, visiting historical sites along the East Coast. We were at Historic Williamsburg in Virginia and saw the jets scramble out of nearby Norfolk. We were going to go south into North Carolina and then through Washington D.C. We changed our plans and headed to Gettysburg instead.
As we traveled away from the devastation at the nation's capital, we saw people stand on bridges hanging banners. Those words scrolled on a bed sheet were needed then, just as they are on the anniversary 12 years later – "God Bless the U.S.A."
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