September 11th

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Lisa BernardSeptember 11th is always the hardest day of the year for me to work. As a journalist I cover whatever event is relevant to the anniversary that day and try to remain focused on the topic at hand (this year: improved security on the Golden Gate Bridge). But it is particularly challenging for me on that day to ignore my emotions, that are just beneath the surface, when we revisit the horrifying attacks that our country endured on 9-11-01.

I personally know two people who died in the attacks on September 11, 2001. A childhood friend was killed in one of the airplanes, a college friend was killed in one of the World Trade Center towers. My family lives in Manhattan and they, too, are, obviously, touched by the tragedy every year.

I am also reminded every year of how that day played out for me working the morning shift at NBC11. I was in Larkspur doing a story on a “sick out” by bus drivers. Once we learned of the attacks, we rushed to SFO. At the airport we gathered with other TV crews and reported on the FAA’s grounding of all air travel. That’s when a reporter asked the airport spokesperson “Where is United flight 93? It’s due in here shortly.” The spokesperson said that he believed the flight was fine…but then he disappeared to double check. He came back and told us the flight was “unaccounted for.” We all got chills. Where were the family members coming to SFO to meet that flight? We now know that is the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers stormed the cabin and overpowered the hijackers who were presumed to be heading to Washington, D.C. Strangely enough, not one family member came to SFO to meet that flight. They all knew it wasn’t coming. Perhaps they heard directly from their loved ones using cell phones on board…perhaps they watched the news reports.

There were changes that came out of that horrible day. Of course, the nation united in a way it hadn’t in my lifetime. I made deep everlasting friendships with those who were huddled with me at SFO for days covering the loss of flight 93 and the eventual resumption of air travel across the nation. And, improved safety measures emerged in air travel, local transit, and yes, on the Golden Gate Bridge.

September 11th is a day that I feel is important for me to work, regardless of how difficult. It’s a day where people tune in to television news to watch memorials happening in places they can’t be, and to learn what changes have come about locally since that major moment in our country’s history…and hopefully we can provide that for them.

Lisa Bernard
NBC11 Reporter

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