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September 11th, 2008
06:39 PM ET

Leave the live shot rolling and duck behind a wall

Editor's Note:
We are devoting many posts today to the anniversary of 9/11, with first-hand accounts, insight, and commentary dedicated to that day seven years ago that changed our world.
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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/11/art.911pentagonmemorial.jpg caption="An airplane flies overhead toward Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport as members of a Military honor guard stand at attention for the unveiling of the benches at the Pentagon Memorial, Thursday, Sept. 11,2008" width=292 height=320]
Steve Turnham
CNN Producer

On 9/11 I was the Senate producer for CNN. By the time I got to work the House and Senate had already been evacuated. I ended up on the roof of the CNN bureau, with a veteran cameraman, pointing the lens at the sky, waiting for a plane to come barreling down the Mall and into the US Capitol.

By then the Pentagon had already been hit, and there was smoke drifting across the city. But no one was quite sure yet what had happened. Rumors were flying that a plane was heading into DC, to the White House maybe, or the Capitol. As it turned out that plane was the one that crashed in Pennsylvania, but in those early hours, nothing was certain.

Another network reported as fact that a plane was flying down the Potomac River towards us (CNN did not report this). We tried to get ready for anything. What if it hit the Capitol and the explosion reached us a quarter mile away? What if it missed, and hit closer to us? We decided if we did see a plane, we'd shoot as long as possible, then leave the live shot rolling, and duck behind a wall.

In the end, mercifully, there was no plane. The Capitol was not hit, because of the heroism of those passengers on Flight 93, who fought the hijackers and brought the plane down in that Pennsylvania field.

As we waited, the city fell silent, except for the sound of distant sirens. Our thoughts turned away from what might have happened before our eyes, and back to the magnitude of what had actually taken place.

soundoff (One Response)
  1. deborah, OH

    Again, our thoughts turn to the heroes aboard flight 93...their sacrifice & bravery knows no bounds....what could have been, but wasn't, we will never knw.
    Our thoughts & prayers again go the the families of the passengers of this plane.

    September 11, 2008 at 7:24 pm |