INDIANAPOLIS — On Sept. 11, 2021, people around the United States and the world will reflect on the lives lost in the terror attacks 20 years ago. People remember where they were when they learned of the attacks, the feeling and the emotions. For those too young to remember that day, they've grown up learning about it and how it changed the country forever.
13News anchors, reporters and meteorologists reflect on where they were on September 11, 2001 and the enduring memories from that day.
Anne Marie Tiernon
When the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York, I was volunteering at my daughter's elementary school in Cincinnati.
The teacher gave me a stack of papers to copy and assemble into packets. I was alone in the teacher resource room when my pager went off.
When I emerged from the workroom, the teachers were huddled together, discussing what they had heard and how to proceed with the school day.
I called my station and got to work. There, we watched the non-stop network coverage and crafted a plan for local coverage. I remember the fear that there was more to come, more targets could be hit that day, the next day, and the weeks and months to follow. We were tasked with identifying areas that terrorists might target in the tri-state area.
Unfortunately, we soon learned there was a local woman who died in the tower. She had traveled to New York for a meeting at the World Trade Center. When I went to her home, her daughters and husband still had the meals she had prepared for them to eat while she was gone. They left her meal plan posted on the refrigerator for some time. It was so symbolic of how unexpected the 9/11 events unfolded; how the plans so many had for their lives and their families STOPPED.
September 11, 2001 I was 6 years old, almost 7. A second grader, in Georgia.
I don't remember much about the school day, only that the intercom in my classroom constantly buzzed with parents picking up my classmates from school early.
When I got off the bus that afternoon, my cousins met me in my driveway – their mom had done the same. I thought they were frantically describing a scene from a TV show – all at once they were shouting about a "plane crash in New York" as we walked in the house.
We all sat in the living room with the news on repeat. This was the first time I had ever heard the word "terrorist." My mom struggled to put it into terms that she thought I'd understand. She could not answer my constant question of "why" this had happened. She did not understand either.
We visited Ground Zero as a family, nearly 10 years later, and again I saw my parents speechless and struggling to find the right words to explain its significance to my younger sister – who was not even a year old, on the 9/11 attacks.
It seems like yesterday. Former Sunrise anchor Bruce Kopp and I were talking in the studio. Back in those days we carried the Central Time Zone feed of the Today Show in early September. Looking at the Eastern Time Zone feed in a monitor we saw smoke coming out of the first tower and we had the master control operator change to that feed immediately. The rest was history.
During our noon show, I broadcast live from Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral where members of the Catholic Center staff and others had gathered for prayer. It was extremely moving as the nation was plunged into a time of questions and uncertainly.
Later that evening, I was live at the Light Of The World Christian Church where I interviewed Bishop T. Garrott Benjamin about looking at this time of crisis from a spiritual viewpoint. Tom, before we went on, spoke with me about the need for prayer, especially by those who called themselves Christ followers. He reminded me of the scripture..."If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways...then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." – 2 Chronicles 7:14.
It was a day of chaos, turmoil and uncertainty. It was also a time of hope.
September 11, 2001. I was an evening news anchor at a TV station in Salt Lake City, Utah. And I can remember getting up that morning to get my three young kids ready for school, flipped on the TV, and there was that image of the first tower, fire and smoke billowing out of the upper floors, and I didn't really even didn't even really register what I was looking at.
But as I was listening to the anchor describe what was happening, it just became this sickening pit in my stomach.
And then a few minutes later I saw that second plane hit the other tower. And at that point it was pretty clear that we were under attack.
And there my three kids are, getting ready for school, and I really don't even remember what I said to them. Because I was having trouble processing what we were looking at that day.
Our world changed that day. We will never forget.
On this, the 20th Anniversary of 9/11, I’m going to share a truth that I have never shared before:
I wish I wasn’t in New York City that Tuesday morning.
I’ve never said that before, but it’s true.
I can’t un-see what I saw.
I can’t un-smell what I smelled.
I can’t un-feel what I felt.
I won’t ever be unburdened.
Watching the events of 9/11 unfold on TV versus being in Manhattan as it was all happening is the equivalent of being told about hell versus being IN hell.
So every 9/11, when I say, “I was there,” it’s not some badge of honor.
It’s a defense mechanism.
It’s a cry for help.
On that Tuesday morning two decades ago, I was a cocky 30-year-old who was ready to take on the world. No terrorist was going divert my trajectory. And no terrorist attack was going to bend my spirit.
Now, as a 50-year-old husband and father, I see the world in a more practical sense. And I’m much more self-aware.
I’ve learned that it’s okay to say, “I’m not okay.”
And I’m not okay with what I witnessed that day.
This Saturday morning at 7:21 a.m., I’m already tired of talking about 9/11.
Two weeks ago, I conducted an interview with an amazing Butler University professor who was there in NYC on 9/11. This past week, I spent four days editing that 42-minute interview into a 3-minute package for Friday’s extremely emotional 13Sunrise. Hearing all of her recollections brought it all back to me again. And it drained me.
I can’t thank Julia Moffitt and Chuck Lofton enough for their emotional support yesterday… because I need it.
(And thanks to Chuck for taking the picture you see here of Julia and me trying to summon our strength just before the 6 a.m. open of the show.)
When you’re 30, you think macro. I wanted to change the world!
Now, at 50, my world is very micro in nature. I just want to make our immediate world better for my wife Olga, for my son Dacio and for my daughter Deyla.
And that’s how I’m going to spend the 20th Anniversary of 9/11… with my family.
I’m going to be surrounded by love.
I wish I wasn’t where I was 20 years ago.
But I’m sure as heck glad I’m where I’m at today. ❤️
I was on the stage at Lebanon High School, my alma mater, talking to a class there. As soon as I got off the stage, I was taken into the office and they told me that a plane had just hit one of the towers, and as we were sitting there watching the coverage on the TODAY Show, that's when the second plane hit the other tower.
Our daughter was a newborn, she was being watched by my mom and I just called her and I said, "I've got to go into work." And I was immediately out in the field.
I remember I was waiting on the mayor to set up a command center basically so that we could just figure out what was happening in the city. At that point, I think everyone thought anything could happen.
And I'll just never forget that day.
I was supposed to be at work at 10 o'clock.
I was glued to the television like so many of us were.
And when Jim Miklaszewski came on and said the Pentagon’s been hit. I got scared and thought, 'Okay, we are under attack.'
I had to put all of that personal fear away and get to work. And I knew that we needed to figure out what was going on, relay that to our viewers and kind of help all Hoosiers make sense of what was happening.
So, it was certainly a difficult day. But I can say in the days that followed, I never felt the unity in the community than I did then.
I will never forget what a beautiful fall day it was. The sky was a perfect blue color with not a cloud in it.
I was getting ready to head into work at the CBS affiliate in Altoona, PA where I was a reporter.
I saw word on television that a plane had hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. For several minutes, I stayed glued to my television only to watch in real time as a second plane hit the South Tower.
My phone started ringing to get into work as soon as possible because there were families locally with loved ones who worked in those towers.
I don’t even remember driving to work. I just knew I needed to get there. It wasn’t long after I arrived, that a third plane hit the Pentagon.
Minutes later, we heard discussion on the police scanner about air traffic control out of Cleveland losing contact with another plane. We all looked at each other and shook our heads, never imagining, that plane was United Airlines Flight 93.
It wasn’t long though, before a small town called Shanksville, PA, right in our backyards, would become the site of the first battle in the War on Terror.
That first day, I did not go to Shanksville. They sent a reporter who was closer.
In the days that followed, I would end up spending nearly two weeks there, covering the investigation, the vigils and the families of the victims who came to see where their loved ones gave their lives protecting others.
I remember the bluest sky you’ve ever seen that morning - across most of the country, too. Tuesday, September 11th, was my off day. I had just dropped someone off at the Indianapolis airport and went into Channel 8 (where I was working at the time) to chit-chat with Randy Ollis, which I did frequently on my days off.
When I entered the weather center, he was watching CBS’ special coverage of the aftermath of the first plane that struck the North Tower. We were both watching as the second plane struck the South Tower. Instantly we looked at each other and knew that our country was under attack. It was a terrifying, helpless feeling I had never experienced before.
The remainder of the day, and next several days, I did what I could do to help my colleagues in the news department tell the story and gather any information locally. At some point that afternoon, or next day, I made it over to near the airport and will never forget the eerie silence of no air traffic.
To this day whenever I see a cobalt blue sky it takes me back to that morning. A morning our lives and world were changed forever.
On 9/11, I was single and at my home in Plainfield, getting ready for work. I was listening to the radio...Julie and Steve were on WZPL. They stopped their show to announce that a plane had flown into the North Tower building in New York. They described what they were watching on the news. What they described sounded so frightening, so many unknowns...why? Was it an accident? Were we under attack?
I ran downstairs and turned on the TODAY Show. Matt Lauer and Katie Couric were describing the scene and trying to make sense of what was going on. And then, another plane arrived, flying into the South Tower. The scene was unbelievable.
I eventually left my home and went into work. I was working in radio sales at WTTS radio in downtown Indy. My office decided that we would cancel any appointments and spend the day together. We went the Rock Bottom and watched the terror unfold on the news. We felt sad, scared, hopeless. We really didn't even know if there would be a tomorrow.