10 years ago today, I was a cub reporter in my first real job at Central Florida News 13. It was my day off and I was easing into the morning, watching the Today show in my apartment in Orlando. I remember Matt Lauer and Katie Couric started talking about a plane that had just flown into one of the towers at the World Trade Center. It was confusing for everyone at first, and then they started narrating over live pictures of the towers.
Then the second plane hit. I had no concept of what a terrorist attack looked like; it didn't cross my mind that anyone would do this on purpose until Matt said it could be an act of terror. Then my phone rang. It was work, calling me in.
I rushed around to get ready; I called my future husband in San Francisco to tell him to turn on the TV. He was on his way into his second day of medical school, and he had no idea what was happening on the East Coast. I don't think I even spoke with my parents until a few hours later because I was so focused on getting to my station and getting my assignment. And I had no concept of what that day would come to mean. I was just a 23 year old rookie journalist on my way to work to find out what I was going to cover because this was big, it was breaking, and it was all hands on deck.
I ended up at Disney World, a symbol of Americana, where international tourists and parkgoers were all getting bits of news from their families on cell phones. It was before the age of smartphones and instant Internet connections and streaming video. We interviewed people who were supposed to be having a good time, but were instead confused, concerned, and distracted. And at that point, there was so much uncertainty about what other cities, what other landmarks could be targets. Why not the Happiest Place on Earth?
It was a long day, but I was glued to the coverage for hours, for days afterward. Watching the reports from Ground Zero, seeing the family members holding signs with their loved ones' faces and names behind reporters delivering their live shots. Journalists crying on the air. It was so much to take in. I was, in a way, sheltered from the enormity of it because of my limited life experience. I was not married, not a mother, and so young in my career that I was focused on the technical stuff--the details, the facts, the reporting.
But 10 years later, reading the stories and watching the anniversary coverage, I know how much I've grown, how much the world has changed, and how I will never forget bearing witness to a period in American history that I hope, will be the worst of my lifetime and many generations to come.