A 9/11 Soapbox: Daily Herald editors offer brief reflections on anniversary of terror attacks

Posted9/11/2021 1:00 AM

If there was a silver lining to be had after 9/11, it was that as a nation we were all rowing in the same direction. At least it felt that way at the time. In the two decades that followed, I've been shown time and again that our common sense of purpose is constantly under strain. It's difficult to envision under what circumstances we might all find ourselves rowing as one again. Part of me doesn't want to find out.

-- Jim Baumann, Managing Editor


The eerie silence. That's something I will never forget during my morning and afternoon commutes from Chicago into our office in Arlington Heights during the days immediately following Sept. 11. My commute on I-90 took me directly along the usually noisy flight path to O'Hare. I remember looking through my sunroof, searching for planes in the sky. It was during those quiet commutes that the realization that life would never be the same hit me. Silence, and fear of the unknown, but also the resolve that we must keep on living, washed over me.

-- Caroline Linden, News Editor

Sept. 11, 2001, sharply focused the U.S. on counterterrorism in the Middle East. COVID-19 elevated health policy among national priorities. We've lived through two major calamities, and it's not out of the question that climate change will bring more. As Americans, we need to drop the hatefulness and lies that divide us and figure out how to meet the challenges before us.

-- Diane Dungey, Senior Deputy Managing Editor

The morning's sleep was interrupted by a call from my sister saying, "Turn the TV on." I could hear the despair in her voice. From that day forward, for the next 10 days, we told many stories about how high school athletes were reacting to Sept. 11. Today's high schoolers weren't born in 2001. We hope their teachers and coaches are making sure they know the significance of the day.

-- John Radtke, High School Sports Editor

Remember the images of the Pearl Harbor attack? They might not have reached Americans for hours or even days. 9/11 happened in pretty much real time, what with the instant TV coverage. But, no social media yet. Flight 93 passengers heard of the Washington and New York attacks after calling loved ones on the airplane phones. Imagine how instantly anything can be seen today. It reaffirms that nothing is really that far away.

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-- Neil Holdway, Deputy Managing Editor/Late News

A few weeks before 9/11, I traveled solo to Spain. My mom joined me at my gate, just to keep me company before my flight. That luxury wouldn't happen again, and it often reminds me how much travel has changed since Sept. 11, 2001. I tend to forget, take airport safety precautions for granted and get frustrated by security delays and frequent ID checks. But 9/11 reminds us how necessary those safeguards are and to be grateful they are in place today.

-- Kelly Vold, Digital Editor for Engagement

It's a cliché to marvel at how quickly time passes, but I still can't get over the fact that it's been 20 years since the terror attacks. Yes, much has happened in all that time, but the events of that day remain raw and vivid, not just in my visual memory but in my core. With almost no nudging, I can take myself back to the breathtaking numbness of 9/11 and the weeks immediately following.

-- Jim Slusher, Deputy Managing Editor for Opinion

This summer, my husband and I visited the Flight 93 memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Part of the exhibit included transcripts of phone messages the passengers and crew left for family members once they realized they likely would not survive. It was haunting and heartbreaking. Imagine yourself in that situation. Who would you call, and what would you say?

-- Michelle Holdway, News Editor

Despite having lived in my place about a year, 9/11 was the first time I met my neighbors when, like much of the country, we gathered to talk about what had happened. Friends, family or strangers, we all healed together. Where is that togetherness now, during this pandemic, when simply asking someone to wear a mask is asking for trouble?


-- Melynda Findlay Shamie, Local Editor, Glenview and Northbrook

When I became aware of what was going on, I turned on the TV to see thick, black smoke coming from the North Tower. Then I saw the jet fly into the South Tower, and it was the most horrible sight I'd ever seen. Until I later saw people jumping to their deaths from the North Tower. I often think of all those poor souls and their loved ones. Never forget.

-- Mike Smith, Sports Editor

Amid the devastation and tragedy of that day, I remember a spark of hope from seeing some 150 members of Congress -- Republican, Democrat, blue state and red -- gathering on the steps of the U.S. Capitol that evening and together singing an impromptu rendition of "God Bless America." The moment may have been fleeting, and perhaps impossible to imagine in today's climate, but 20 years ago, it brought a brief moment of light to an otherwise inconceivably dark day.

-- Charles Keeshan, Deputy City Editor

The decade before, the optimism following the end of the Cold War filled us with joy. A millennium of peace seemed at hand ... And now? On the night of Sept. 11, I thought of my first grandchild, being carried that day by my pregnant daughter: How different that baby's world would be than the one I'd hopefully imagined 24 hours earlier.

-- John Lampinen, Editor

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