9-11 A Charlotte reporters notebook

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Covering the 9-11 story in New York was both a career changing and life changing assignment.

From the 10 hour drive to New York from Charlotte to the level of uncertain challenges we faced in getting our pieces on the air, it was unlike any event that I ever reported in more than 25 years of being with WBTV.

Getting to New York City and on the air that night was one goal we achieved, but I still cling to memories of racing along Interstate 395 in Arlington, Virginia south of Washington D.C., and recall seeing smoke pouring from the pentagon and watching military helicopters flying in formation protecting many of our nation's monuments.

It was a preview of what was to come three hours up the road from the banks of the Hudson River on that very night 12 hours, after the attacks.

Once in New York, it was a case of hearing sirens, walking through soot, and knowing that unclaimed cars at parking lots represented those who would never return, those are just a few of the thoughts that haven't faded away by time and other compelling assignments over the last 10 years.

During the five days of being on the road and seeing the crisis unfold, I was moved by the unstoppable dedication of New York's first responders, despite their deep personal pain of losing so many friends, colleagues, and loved ones.

Also moving was witnessing the large number of volunteers many just right off the street who displayed a great sense of giving and personal resolve in the simplest of tasks from making sandwiches for relief workers to handing out bottles of water to firefighters and police officers as they continued the rescue and recovery operation in Ground Zero.

One of my last stories from New York came at St. Veronica's Catholic Church in Manhattan.

That's where I met a lady by the name of Peggy Carpenter carried a homemade sign with a picture of her friend Kevin Bowser.

Like me, Bowser was African American man in his 40's who loved jazz.

He worked on the 97th floor of one of the towers and was never found.

I also learned that he commuted every day from Philadelphia that's where a scholarship fund has been set up in his honor.

Seeing his name on the list of victims and hearing his name read aloud as they are remembered brings a slight a chill.

It is a solemn reminder that journalists are also touched by the events they cover, while watching a nation still coming to grips with its own recovery.

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