Benson Remembers Watching 9-11 Attacks Unfold From Kalamazoo
Disbelief. If you ask me one word about what happened on September 11th,, 2001, it was disbelief. Twenty years later, it's still hard to fathom anyone doing something like this.
And as I was saying this morning, as events were happening in New York City, Washington, DC and Shanksville, PA, hearing about it, and then watching it, one thing I remember clearly was how beautiful the weather was that morning in Kalamazoo. I had just dropped my kids off at Indian Prairie School. I was thinking a little golf before work. But then, the voice on the radio reported a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. The next 48 hours were and are still a blur. Maybe I associate bad things with bad weather, but it was so nice out. (then again, it was sunny the day I came home for lunch when President Kennedy was assassinated.)
Thankfully, our boss, Ed Sackley made the decision to run non-stop programming from ABC News almost immediately after we realized how big this story was. I seriously have no idea what I could have said on that afternoon. (Heck, even the White House didn't know if we were under attack or not, until later on Tuesday). By the time I did go back on the air, on Thursday, we'd at least had a chance to process some of this, but still, what do you say? Doing basic radio seemed so superfluous and silly opposite the real events going on in the country. All the people who died. All the first responders. Think about how many people were stranded because planes were immediately grounded. (One story I didn't tell on the air, but my cousin's husband was supposed to be on the flight out of Boston, but missed it.)
Thankfully, our former morning guy, John Hammer, was in the building, and I asked him to sit in with me when we did go back on Thursday. And we just sat and talked and shared and took calls, and tried to deal with what we'd seen transpire. Sometime that afternoon, It dawned on me that Don Henley's New York Minute lyrically sounded perfect for the stories being told. John took our audio and mixed it together. People still talk about that. I also remember President George W. Bush being so presidential. In the rubble in New York City, and then addressing the country and later speaking to Congress. Bush took a lot of grief later, but we needed a steady hand at the moment and he provided it.
We all know a lot changed since then. The most example is trying to get on an airplane. It truly something that will stay with us forever.