To quote the Alan Jackson song, where were you on 9/11 when the world stopped turning?
Life moved on for most Americans after that day that defies description, even though things were never the same. For the families of the victims and those who directly experienced the terrorist attacks, life was forever altered in a radical way.
I say that day defies description, because to merely call it horrific does not fully convey the full scope of the tragedy.
When the attacks happened, I was asleep in my Chattanooga apartment. I worked what was basically the second shift on the copy desk of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Eight in the morning, Eastern time, was about 3 or 4 a.m. for me at that time -- most of the way through the sleep cycle, but still before time to get up.
My mother called and woke me up shortly before the first tower fell. I watched, feeling so helpless, for a while. I called a friend. Then, I went in way early to work (normally, I went in around 4 p.m.).
After the newspaper's editors decided on a plan of coverage, I spent the rest of the day pulling and editing AP wire copy and photos, then building pages. I had been on the rotation to design and build the front page, but that plan got scrapped as more senior editors did that job. I worked on wire pages inside Section A. I will never forget working on a photo of a man falling through mid-air, past a tower, to his death, with smoke and debris flying around him.
That black-and-white photo, as well as a particular well-printed photo of soot-covered office workers running away from the collapse, will forever remain seared into my mind when I think of 9/11.
And I will always remember the horror as it slowly became apparent that hundreds of firefighters, paramedics and police died while helping others. There is also the horror and bitter disappointment as the days dragged on and so few survivors were found in the rubble.
Never forget 9/11 and all that changed as a result.