Two stories where I never expected 9/11 connections

Two stories where I never expected 9/11 connections

All of us who lived through the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 remember where we were when it happened and how it impacted our lives, directly or indirectly. Some of those impacts only became clear years, or decades later.

Working with my newsroom on coverage for the 20th anniversary has brought to my mind two instances where the lingering impact of 9/11 had a surprising and sobering impact on my work years after the attacks.

On top of New York

While covering the Super Bowl in New York City for my previous employer, I attended a tour and interview in the then-incomplete One World Observatory atop One World Trade Center.

Of course, the view overlooked the 9/11 memorial, but what struck me most was actually something we were asked not to photograph.

Scribbled on the concrete and steel of the building’s internal structure were innumerable personal messages from the men and women who built the skyscraper — who collaborated to raise a new tower at Ground Zero. Those messages are now encased in the walls of that building, which turns the building itself into a hallowed ground.

We were asked not to photograph the messages so they could remain personal and to avoid revealing details about the internal structure of the tower.

Looking out the window of an incomplete One World Observatory.

Deep underground

Another unexpected encounter with the history of 9/11 came during a rare tour of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex.

While I knew this was an active military facility, I was naive about its modern role. I thought of it in the context of the Cold War purpose for which it was originally built, and the many works of fiction the bunker had inspired.

In fact, things had changed a great deal for this underground bunker in 2001. I learned during our tour that prior to 9/11, there was a period of years were visitors were often welcomed to see the facility.

When the attacks came, that period of openness ended.

Sept. 11, 2001 was the first time in years that the blast doors seen in this photo were closed.

To me, the idea of closing these massive doors underscored the fear and uncertainty that everyone experienced that day.

Double blast door entryway to the underground Cheyenne Mountain Complex.