In early August, my family set out on a nine-day road trip to Chicago, Tennessee, South Carolina and up to Washington.
We made it a point to stop at Newseum in Washington, where I overheard several people say they could spend an entire day there. Among the artifacts include the shirt and jacket Lee Harvey Oswald wore the day he was arrested following the JFK assassination and a twisted antenna that came down from atop the World Trade Center.
That exhibit is in the 9/11 section of Newseum, which features newspaper front pages from across the country on that day.
It’s a moving experience. As I’ve shared before, I was home that morning after working the night before at The Forum. Dianna Baumann of The Forum’s newsroom called me and, without small talk, told me to come in immediately.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Aren’t you watching TV?” she said.
I hung up, flipped the TV on and saw this skyscraper with smoke pouring out of it. Cranking up the volume, I first noticed the intensity of the reports, then heard that two planes flew into them.
That was all I knew before my five-minute (that day three-minute) drive to the office.
Reporters and editors here surrounded the television sets. By then, there was talk about publishing a quick afternoon edition of The Forum. Hundreds of images flooded our AP photo service, thousands of words were filed by the wire service and as I started to pour through copy, comprehending all these changing leads as news of the plane crashes at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania began to develop.
That night, we published the edition that now hangs among several other historical front pages in Washington. Huge headlines reading “HORROR,” “TERROR,” and the San Francisco Examiner’s “BASTARDS!” cover the wall.
It’s difficult to sum up that entire day in one word. Being there and seeing this all over again with more than a decade of comprehension, “BASTARDS!” almost seems too light.
May we never see a day that dark again.