The guard dogs were out on the train platforms this morning as I headed into Washington, D.C., as they should be. It’s a kind of sad, gray, rainy day here inside the Beltway, and no one is talking about it. So I offer you the following from a friend of this blog, a piece of his lengthy post last night about his experiences in New York City on that clear, blue, slightly chilly morning — running toward the flaming towers with a reporter’s notebook in his hand.
On his Crunchy Con weblog, the art with his post is a scanned page of that actual notebook. The most chilling part is the little line and scrawl in the middle, where Rod sways and almost falls with shock as he sees the first tower collapse.
There are many people to think about and pray for today, as they struggle with grief, loss and their memories. So many gave so much. So many journalists did their best on that day and they, too, live with their memories. Here is a clip from that notebook:
I went on, stopping along the way to get quotes. Then I reached the last pillar of the bridge before descending into Manhattan. There I ran into Jessie Graham, my NYPost colleague. She was out riding her bike, as she didn’t come to work till later. We talked for a short while, and stared gape-mouthed at the smoking towers. Finally I said to her, “Come on, let’s get down there.”
No, she said. “Those things are going to come down.”
I looked at her like she was crazy. “They’re not going to fall down,” I said. “They’re the Twin Towers.”
Then, seconds later, the crown of the south tower did a little twist, and there was that horrible, horrible roar, which I can hear inside my head as I type this, as the south tower collapsed. You can see on the image below the precise moment this happened, because I had my pen to my paper. At the top of the page were quotes from bystanders gathered just before the tower went down (“This is Tom Clancy. This is unbelievable.” “Plain and simple and act of war.” “This isn’t a pizzeria w/10 employees.”) But look under the line I drew — you’ll see a shaky line falling away toward the bottom of the page. That’s where my pen was on the paper as my knees went weak and I literally began to fall down. I reached out and grabbed Jessie to keep from going down.
Then I wrote, in a crazy scrawl:
explosion, fell to ground people on bridge sobbing,
It’s not there anymore!
A short, stout young black woman in front of me threw her head back and her arms open. She looked at the sky and bellowed an apocalyptic line from Scripture: “And every knew shall bow, and every tongue confess!” She added: “It ain’t over, people!”
If, for some reason, you need more information and input on this day, here is the New York Times’ archive of Sept. 11 coverage, including the story-by-story salute to the victims. MSNBC’s archives are here.
We can all go back to work now. Or try to.