I remember the sheets of paper the most.
From the roof of my Brooklyn Heights apartment building, the scene was certainly surreal: Entire vertical columns made up of millions of sheets of paper rising a half-mile high from lower Manhattan and raining down across the East River into my neighborhood streets.
The heat - which, I was told later, was generated by the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings on Sept. 11, 2001 - had sent office papers flying. I watched as the buildings fell a little over a mile from where I stood, and later watched as fire trucks and ambulances from Brooklyn were called in to help with the devastation.
I had spent much of my career up to that point walking through the World Trade Center buildings. Each morning at 7:30 a.m. for nearly 10 years, I bought a bagel and coffee from the same lady at the same coffee shop in 2 WTC on my way to work as a reporter at The Wall Street Journal. Liberty chairman John Malone and I shot the breeze on a concrete bench in between WTC 1 and WTC 2 one morning in 2000.
Sept. 11 was, as Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav said before a screening of The Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero last month, personal for everyone, even if you were not personally affected by its events. We all remember where we were when it happened. All Americans were affected.
As upsetting as those real-life images were for me, I was touched most by what I saw on TV. The first responders who sacrificed their lives. The stories of survivors and families. The spontaneous heroes.
Looking back is hard sometimes. I haven’t had much of an appetite for any video from 9/11 since the days immediately after. Too painful. But in the hands of skilled filmmakers, shows such as The Rising, National Geographic Channel’s George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview and Showtime’s The Love We Make documentary with Paul McCartney, make it easier.
Multichannel News’s Aug. 22 cover story highlights cable’s efforts to commemorate the victims of the attacks on 9/11, and the lives of the people who are irrevocably tied to that day. What more appropriate screen to reconnect to our collective loss? Images of that day were viewed for the first time on TV - not an iPad, or a BlackBerry or a cell phone. Tune in.