Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Peter Mansbridge and September 11

We know the narrative pretty much by heart now.

September 11, 2001.  8:46 am.  Four airplanes.  Nearly 3000 dead in New York, Virginia, and Shanksville, PA.

The memories are so vivid.  Certain details get lost in the passage of time, but the major points can't be forgotten.

For me, the day is etched.  It was amazing weather.  The first plane struck right around the corner or Routes 139 and 100 near Katonah, NY as I drove to Greenwich.  I was listening to Don Imus.  The second one hit as I was on Interstate 684.  I had turned to WCBS news radio 880.

I listening, watched, and read.  Everybody had - and still has - a story to tell.

September 11 turned to September 12 and, like many, I was up very early.  I was awakened by a low-flying aircraft (I always forget what kind it was) around 4:30 or so, and stayed up.  Moments later, after retrieving the newspaper from the edge of the driveway, I was right back in front of the TV, and listening to the radio.

Later that evening, after I went and did "Tee Time" with Michael Breed on WGCH, I returned home and watched as cameras were focused on the Empire State Building, with the news that a bomb scare was going on.  The camera focused just as it did on the World Trade Center towers the day before.

It was at that moment that I needed a time out.  I was done.  If the Empire State Building did come down, well, I don't know.  It just felt like it would be too much.  But I still needed to stay in touch with the story.

I don't remember which channel it was - I think it was C-Span, maybe PBS, it doesn't matter - was carrying coverage from CBC, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation.  After days of Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, along with cable and local broadcasters, I began watching the Canadian broadcast.

Enter Peter Mansbridge, anchor of The National, Canada's answer to our nightly news programs.

Like the others, he seemed very much the prototypical network news anchor.  Warm, authoritative, trusting.

I don't even remember what he said that worked for me, but whatever it was, it was effective. For some reason, it seemed less - this might not be the right word - hyperbolic.  Something about Mansbridge and the CBC team was calming.  You can say it was because they weren't attached to the story, but to a point they were, as of course, they're our neighbors and, many of the grounded planes on September 11 had to land in Canada.
Peter Mansbridge
 I was still able to get the news.  Eventually I returned to watching everything, but I'll never forget the work of Mansbridge, who became anchor of The National in 1988.

So when I think about September 11, many images flash in my memory.  Many names come to my mind.

Peter Mansbridge is one of those names.

As always, I will listen to Bruce's The Rising today.  If you feel like you can stand listening to it, here is the montage of audio I assembled after events of September 11, 2001.  I post it as a tribute to the lives lost.

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