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What I Remember About 9/11, And How That Day Changed Me

Firemen at Ground Zero, 9/11/01
Getty Images, Mario Tama

After I was asked to give a summary of what September 11th, 2001 was like for me, I thought I’d share my thoughts and be done with it. But that wasn’t the case at all. That day is – as for many of you – one I will never forget, and a day that brought out emotions in me that I will take with me forever. It also gave me a different way of looking at life. I’ve shared a couple of these stories before, but this is the first time I’ve told several of these accounts.

  • I will never forget what a beautiful day it was on that September morning in Michigan. The weather was a stark contrast to what what on my mind and in my heart. Childishly, it made me angry that such a beautiful day was ruined. I remember actually wanting it to be dark, cold, and rainy.
  • I remember what a great mood the morning show host was in as he signed off, and I prepared to go on the air for my midday show. We shared a joke, and then simultaneously noticed the smoking building on the muted t.v. in the studio. I don’t remember what we were joking about, but I remember that would be the last joke we would share for a really long time.
  • It was a long, hard day at work. My 5-hour radio show seemed to be a 24-hour marathon. The music stopped playing after the first hour. A national news feed took over, and I would come on the air with someone from our news staff to talk about what was going on, how local people, churches and businesses were reacting, and just try to make sense of what was going on. I was exhausted by the end of the day. I learned that work under ordinary circumstances is not that difficult, no matter how bad my day seems.
  • I remember wanting so badly to be with my then 18 month old son, who was in the hospital recovering from surgery. I hated not being with him. I needed him. And I learned just how much I love him on 9/11.
  • I remember seeing normal gas prices (I don’t remember what ‘normal’ gas prices were exactly) at one gas station, and prices that had quadrupled across the street. I think that was the first time I saw that some people will take advantage of you for their own personal gain, no matter what the situation happens to be.
  • I have memories of how far away I always felt New York City was from where I lived, and how I lived my life. But, as the day wore on, there was a clear connection to these people. The people who died were parents, brothers, and sons, just like me. Most of them were either starting their workday or doing their job.
  • I remember, for the first time in my life, wishing I was something other than a radio personality. I wanted to be a firefighter. Rather than change professions, I decided to have a deeper appreciation for those who make admirable sacrifices to keep me and my family safe. Since that day, I have found myself thanking service men and women regularly. I never did that before 9/11.
  • I will always remember raw, live footage on the television of the burning buildings. I haven’t seen any video or still photos since that day of my most vivid memory. As a camera remained fixed on one of the smoking World Trade Center buildings, I saw two people, hand-in-hand, jump from the skyscraper to their certain death. The camera didn’t follow, and there was no reference to the act by the commentators that I heard. It just happened, and I sat still in my chair, shocked. The vision, forever stuck in my head, never ceases to make me stop and think of the special people in my life.

These are just a few things that I remember and how I changed since September 11th, 2001. Do you have a memory to share? How have you changed since 9/11?

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