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9/11 Anniversary TV Specials Have Me Looking, and Listening, Back
August 30, 2011  | By David Bianculli

Along with the final versions of the new fall TV series, my current stack of preview DVDs also includes several 9/11 10th anniversary specials, with more arriving every day.


Once again, as in a decade ago, I'm being bombarded with more horrific images and emotional video than any one person should have to absorb. And just in case I've forgotten just how raw and wrecked I was after the towers fell, I have my own Fresh Air radio report to remind me...

It's archived on this site, in the Fresh Air Faves section -- so you can find it, and hear it, by scrolling down to the very bottom of that page.

Or, if you prefer, you can read my annotated note here:

"There are old newspaper clips on this site, as well as these old radio reports. Sometimes, though, you can hear things in the voice that you just can't get from the printed page.

"This Fresh Air report, broadcast nine days after 9/11, is my best example of that. At that moment, I was emotionally raw -- not only from watching nonstop coverage of the terrorist attacks and their aftermath for so long, but by personal stuff that had hit me just as hard, including the separate sudden deaths of my father and stepmother and the equally sudden death, just a few weeks before, of my 25-year marriage.

"All that came out, somehow, in this piece, and even though I choked up while delivering it, my producer, Phyllis Myers (another great Fresh Air friend), wouldn't allow me to record another take. In retrospect, it was the right call."

If you'd like to just jump to the audio recording of my Sept. 20, 2001 Fresh Air report on TV's 9/11 coverage itself, just click HERE.

I don't much like listening to it -- but perhaps, given the impending 10th anniversary of 9/11, you just might...




Eileen said:

Lovely, and very thought provoking. I'm so pleased at your mention of David Letterman; I watched that night and was somewhere between awe and heartbreak. It is one of the most amazing moments in television history. So thank you.

As strange as this may sound, my most vivid memory of 9/11 is walking to the corner of 12th Street and 7th Avenue South just moments after the first plane hit. There were hundreds upon hundreds of doctors and nurses in their seafoam green scrubs, stretchers neatly lined row upon row, wheelchairs ready to receive the injured. Portable operating rooms side-by side...But, sadly, it was never to be. It didn't take very long for those truly dedicated practitioners to realize what we would all soon know, that most wouldn't be coming to St. Vincent's. The looks on their faces spoke volumes in both pain and frustration.

We did receive close to 600 survivors, and they and their families were treated like our families. It was a very inspirational time even under the most trying circumstances. We had drop-in centers with counseling for anyone who just needed to talk or maybe not talk.

For all the times we've seem man's inhumanity to his fellow man, what I saw practiced by my fellow employees that day will stay with me forever.

[Thanks, Eileen -- for taking the time to listen, and also, even more, for taking the time to share. If anyone else wants to recount his or her own decade-ago memories or feelings, I'd love to read, and post, them... - DB]

Comment posted on August 30, 2011 12:11 PM

Len said:

I was the concierge at the Millennium Hilton, across the street from the Twin Towers. When the first plane hit, we thought it was an accident. Then when I saw the 2nd plane going into the South Tower, I was devistated! I, along with my fellow colleagues, started evacuating the hotel, and then started running when the buildings fell. I didn't get home until 8:00 that evening (I live in NJ). As someone who grew up in Manhattan & saw the entire lower Manhattan area being built, this was too much for me. Added to this, two weeks after 9/11, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer! I am happy to report that she is a survivor, and we will be participating in her 9th Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure on October 2 in NJ.

p.s. I don't get downtown much anymore..it is just too painful for me!

[Len -- I can't imagine how horrific it must have been to be in the midst of all that fear and chaos, and to witness the falling of the towers firsthand. I'm glad both you and your wife are still around, a decade later, to say you ARE still around. Great to hear from you! -- DB]

Comment posted on August 30, 2011 3:53 PM

Mac said:

Speaking of listening, the NPR archives also contain the Weekend Edition Sunday show from 9/16/01. All of it is amazing, but two noted parts. First the weekly montage of "Voices in the News", including in-the-moment sound from ABC's GMA, then listen to Sinead O'Connor (yes,really) singing the Prayer of St. Francis, aka "Make Me A Channel of Your Peace" from Ireland's memorial show from RTE. Try not to weep. I dare you. I threw away my faith years ago, but this is so heartfelt, it transcends religion.

[Thanks for the heads up on this one. Sounds great. And I mean that literally. -- DB]

Comment posted on August 30, 2011 6:18 PM
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