The Metric of Mainstream_______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Between Blink Lines___________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Blink Line In Memory: 9/11 and Peter Jennings

CNN | NPR | How Aaron Brown Became CNN's Voice Of Sept. 11
Although I wanted to, I hesitated all day to talk about the events of 9/11. I did not know a victim or  family or friend of a victim but carry strong emotions that make it difficult to talk about, especially to a broad internet audience. I would rather focus on inspirations that evolved from the days that followed:

I recall the voice of Peter Jennings, ABC News correspondent, that morning as I sat at my desk unable to see but only able to hear the disaster unfold over our office phone system. I remember his words turned from calm and collected in view of the plane crash to disparate and quiet at the fall of the South tower. In my ears I remembered it that way and never wanted to piece together the visual images I saw later with that exact moment of Peter Jennings voice.

Today, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I watched the ABC coverage of that morning on YouTube. Peter Jennings was relaying information he had just received regarding the TSA's request to land all nation-bound flights while the South tower was falling and when he transitioned to new film footage of the WTC he didn't know what he was looking at [blink line]. As he learned that the entire South tower had crumbled, there was silence, a breath "whoo," and "my god". He then collected his emotions, stuff them into his pocket for later, and continued to report the news as it came. This was different than my pieced-together recollection: the gap of actual audio to video was not a part of my memory, the silence had grown longer over the past ten years, and I had four or five more 'my gods' in my story. However, the moment was just as empty and my stomach dropped in the same way.  



I was in my twenties, fresh out of school when 9/11 occurred. I had never watched the news and had never really thought about my identity as an American. Peter Jennings, was a Canadian American journalist and high school drop out, who began his career with ABC as Americas youngest news anchor in 1965. Although I remember his voice as a child, I did not become a fan until 9/11. He was strong, determined, and a proud American. 

We learned much later that Peter Jennings had developed lung cancer due to smoking; he smoked early in life and admitted in his final sign-off from ABC in April 2005, "... and I was weak and I smoked over 9/11." He died due to complications from lung cancer in August 7, 2005.

The latent bond amongst Americans emerged on 9/11 and still does in its memory. I choose to believe that those who lead in this disastrous moments inspired this emergence. Although George Bush Jr. was cursed for his presidential actions, he was applauded as he approached the stage this morning at the WTC Memorial as was Mayor Guiliani for their strong leadership ten years ago. I imagine that Peter Jennings would receive that same kind of recognition by the American public if he were still here. Little did he know, at 8:00 that morning as he was sipping his coffee and straightening his tie, his contributions to American culture that day would be everlasting.

New York Times |  Where Do We Go From Here?


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