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World-Herald remembrances of 9/11

World-Herald remembrances of 9/11

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Lt. Gen. Robert C. Hinson, would monitor the unprecedented clearing of U.S. airspace of 3,000 aircraft, watching for signs of undetected hijackings. They would personally brief President George W. Bush on the events of the day during the commander in chief’s short-notice visit to Offutt.

In advance of the 20th anniversary of the attacks, The World-Herald asked readers to share their memories from that day. Below are three submissions from former World-Herald staff members, which have been edited for length, grammar and style.

John Fey

Plattsmouth, Nebraska

Since I was working at The World-Herald that day, readers might find it interesting what was happening in the newsroom that morning. Perhaps you'll hear from some of my former colleagues.

I was a member of the news copy editing team that year, and my shift began at 10:30 a.m. — in time to help with the afternoon edition that was still being published. I was on my daily run earlier that morning and heard on my radio headphones that "a plane had struck New York City's World Trade Center." I immediately surmised that it was a small plane, not a large jet as I soon found out.

I hurried home and turned on the TV just in time to see the second plane strike the north tower. When I walked into the newsroom, it was eerily silent. (Normally, there would be conversations taking place.) We all worked while watching the horrific scene on the monitors. At one point, our executive editor, Larry King, addressed us, saying that this could be the newspaper's finest hour since we were one of the few in the country to publish an afternoon edition.

The front page was designed by Mike Drummy, then head of the art department. Months later, it was selected as one of the top 25 front pages — not just around the country but around the world. It was included in a poster that served as a 9/11 fundraiser. I believe it was the last front page Mike designed. Sadly, he died of lung cancer just two months later. The poster today hangs on the wall of my den.

* * *

Steve McWilliams

Omaha

I was home and was getting ready to leave for work in a few minutes. I turned on the TV to ESPN. But they were showing the news — which seemed odd — because SportsCenter should have been on and ESPN hadn't shown any real news programming since they started in the late ‘70s.

They showed a replay of the plane hitting the first tower. I turned off the TV, got in my car to head to work, and put the radio on KFAB. Then, another plane hit the second tower. The buildings collapsed. People were running to get away from the debris. Both buildings were on fire and people were jumping out and falling to their death.

I got to work and went up to the newsroom (I worked at The World-Herald) and watched the coverage for a short time. A very sad day in our history.

***

Courtney Herman Dokter

Omaha

The most intense, significant, gut-wrenching day. I never would have wanted to be anywhere else than standing in The World-Herald newsroom.

Surreal is the word I believe best describes Sept.11, 2001 for me. The day began like most others. I was standing in the heart of the newsroom conversing with an editor when someone called our attention to view the row of TVs suspended above us.

For a few minutes it was as if time stood still. The usual din of a busy newsroom — police dispatch radios, fax machines, keyboards clickety-clacking all faded as everyone stared silently, mouths open in disbelief.

One by one, questions were uttered, all eyes transfixed on monitors. “What just happened? Was that a private plane? Do you suppose the pilot had a heart attack? Dear Lord! Here comes another one!”

At that moment the enormity of a disaster in motion sunk in. Everyone raced to their desk waiting for news reports, wire feeds and photos to start streaming in to The World-Herald database. Little did any of us know the tsunami of information and images that were about to drown us.

What began as an average day in the life of a newspaper imaging editor became, in an instant, the most pivotal, significant day ever imagined or experienced as a news team.

The pace, effort, coordination and dedication to the reporting of this tragic world event was extraordinary. A once-in-a-lifetime assignment that was both gratifying and tragic at a frenetic pace.

Shortly after that initial exhausting heroic day, the National Press Club requested that newspapers from all over the world submit their page one from Sept.11, 2001, for consideration to be selected as the best. There would be 25 deemed finalists and printed as a poster to benefit victims and families of the disaster. The Omaha World-Herald was one of them.

The Darkest Page in American History hangs with great pride and sorrow in my living room as a reminder of an inconceivable day and our role in it.


Omaha World-Herald: Afternoon Update

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