It was Sept. 10, 2001. I was a new mom with an infant daughter. I couldn’t have asked for a better schedule that day.
I spent the morning with my baby and worked the night shift shooting a feature story on the medical benefits of laughter. Laughter cures the soul, right? Among other things, I attended a laughter club meeting where the goal was comfort, healing and peace. Just 12 short hours later, I would question whether any of those things could exist in our society ever again.
I was home the morning of 9/11, feeding the baby while watching the morning news.
I was holding my daughter in my arms when I heard that a plane struck the World Trade Center.
My husband was at a construction site like any other morning when I called to tell him I would have to go into work early. I still didn't know the full impact of the story. As I spoke with him, I watched the second plane strike the Twin Towers on live television. I knew I had to get to work without delay. That's how it feels when a big story breaks. You have a job to do. While I turned down a trip to travel with our crew to Ground Zero because of the baby, there was still so much ground to cover in our newsroom.
The moments that followed turned into hours, days and weeks on end surrounded by monitors filled with the devastating images of people falling to their deaths, the towers coming down, the Pentagon burning and the crash site of the heroes of Flight 93. I will never forget the people on the streets of New York, one after another, holding up pictures of their loved ones who were missing. It's the only time I can ever remember when even the toughest of journalists cried openly in the newsroom.
A month later, I wrote in my journal, "I didn't think we'd be raising our daughter during a time of war. It makes me wonder, should we ever have another child? How can you protect them from the evils of the world?"
One year later, I went to New York on assignment. We shot a story at Ground Zero where everything looked so sterile to me. My mind was branded by the images of what once was. There stood a single cross from the last of the steel beams of the World Trade Center. I shuddered to think so many people died there. I wrote, "I know I'm not a New Yorker, but it doesn't take one to see a changed city."
While our crew quietly took in the scene, I heard a child ask his father, "Daddy, is this where all the people died?" His father answered in a somber voice, "yes." And I could see that boy trying to understand what most adults couldn't fathom, not one year after the fact -- perhaps not even ten years after the fact.
I remember saying a prayer for the victims and survivors before we left that day. I thought of their loved ones who held up their pictures with broken hearts and tears in their eyes. I can still see so many of their faces begging for their husbands, mothers, sons and daughters to come home. And I prayed that someday my daughter and the boy I saw, who couldn't make sense of it all, would find comfort, healing and peace in America's recovery.
Aysu Basaran is the mom of three girls and assistant news director for WRAL-TV.