ESSAY | My Sept. 11

I wrote the following thinking I’d submit it to The Hill News, but I ultimately decided against it. My readers here may enjoy it:

By Ed Forbes ’02

St. Lawrence is not really fully in gear, in my experience, until noon and as news of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon broke, much of the campus was just waking up.

News organizations were still adjusting to the Internet and I recall most students following the story via television reports. My roommate, Matt Lavin ’02, and I were living in a suite with Tim Furnary ’03 and Leif Skodnick ’02. All of us were on The Hill News and I was the editor.

Lavin was watching “Today” when Matt Lauer broke away from an interview and footage of the Trade Center appeared at 8:51 a.m. I was in the shower and he shouted in that a prop plane had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Of course, it wasn’t a prop plane, it was American Airlines Flight 11. By 9:03, when United Flight 175 crashed into the south tower, it was clear what was happening.

We immediately tried calling Carl Juers ’99, a good friend who was working as a trader for CIBC on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Juers was based in the World Financial Center and so, too, was Skodnick’s father, Joel. Telecom infrastructure was swamped.

On campus, word of the attacks spread by word-of-mouth. Few Laurentians had cell phones in 2001 and, if they did, they didn’t work anyway. Students in 8:30 classes emerged from academic buildings to a landscape of rumor, hyperbole and fear.

Just as classes changed, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. I had left our room and had gone up to the Noble Center to see if any murmurings about canceling classes had been heard form Vilas. Craig Harris, a member of the Student Life staff, and I watched footage from Washington. Not long afterward, Lavin and I went to the President’s Office to see how St. Lawrence would handle the attacks. Classes went on; the University was to gather for a vigil at 8 p.m.

Counseling staff set up a center for students to grieve. At noon, the Bacheller Memorial Chime rang 12 times to honor the victims. The Rev. Kathleen Buckley, just arrived as University Chaplain, led her new flock through the evening service of compassion.

On Wednesday, Sept. 12, after having established that both Juers and Mr. Skodnick were safe — both had fled northward from Ground Zero and Juers had witnessed Flight 175’s impact and the horrific scene of bodies falling from both towers, we set about publishing The Hill News for Sept. 14.

Lavin wrote a main story that detailed the University’s reactions. We carried a two-page photo essay comprised of images taken our imcomparable photo editor Dustin Williamson ’02. Every member of the Editorial Board wrote his own editorial or column, which we published on pages 2 and 3. The big get, as it were, was an interview I did with Juers, who relayed his horrific experience. Further inside, we ran a list of alums who had reported themselves as safe in both Washington and New York.

We would know for sure that five Laurentians — Robert J. “Bobby” Coll, Catherine Gorayeb, Christopher Morrison, Michel A. “Mike” Pelletier and Richard H. “Richie” Stewart Jr. — until after the paper went to bed.

Steve Knight ’12, editor of The Hill News today, asked me earlier this week if I worried then or now about a ROTC ad that appeared in the Sept. 21, 2002 issue of the paper. At the time, The Hill News supported itself significantly on advertising revenue and ROTC was likely under contract before the attacks. Even so, “United We Stand” were the watchwords that week and really for the rest of the semester. Every student organization, it seemed, was doing something patriotic. American flags were everywhere. There was seemingly a genuine unity — among students, at least.

When my parents, northern New Jersey residents, came to campus at the end of the month for Parents’ Weekend, they were shell-shocked. Canton hadn’t received the full barrage of coverage that the metropolitan market had and my understanding of how badly the attacks had altered so many communities became instantly clearer.

As the fall wore on, my class made plans to erect a monument to the Laurentian victims of the attacks. Our foray into Afghanistan grew into a real war. Our coverage of these events was certainly green at times and maudlin at others. The opinion pages, in particular, grew crowded with debate about the war and American foreign policy.

When the spring semester opened, that debate continued in earnest. The government department sponsored a February panel that examined the media’s coverage of the attacks and the American response. Fred Exoo, John Collins and Karl Schonberg all shared memorable perspectives. Student sentiment against the war on terror began to grow and fully blossomed in the 2002-2003 year.

Vigorous conversation about the attacks and the American response went on to define a decade and a generation. Some Laurentians were called to national service while others gave themselves to activism. We should be glad of both.

As a journalist, Sept. 11 has been a constant. Over the last 10 years, I’ve had a hand in stories about troop deployments, peace vigils, soldiers’ funerals, charity events and tolerance. Even now, we at The Journal News are putting the finishing touches on a special section that includes vignettes about each of the 230 victims who had connections to Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties.

It’s a story we’ll never stop covering.

FRONT PAGES | The demise of Osama bin Laden

Newspapers (or at least those whose press deadlines weren’t extended to accommodate the news) across the land heralded the news in Monday’s editions that a U.S. Navy SEAL-led strike team killed Osama bin Laden on Sunday in Abottabad, Pakistan.

Reaction to the story led today’s papers as well. Here are galleries of front pages from Monday and today:

And today:

FRONT PAGES | The Royal Wedding

The cover of today’s edition of The Times.

So, as you might have heard, there was a little wedding at Westminster Abbey Friday. Prince William of Wales, newly styled as the Duchess of Cambridge, took Catherine Middleton, a commoner, as his wife.

Here’s a little selection of how today’s newspapers played the story-book wedding:

FRONT PAGES | Mubarak steps down

Quite obviously, I’m a few days late presenting this gallery. Still, I thought our readers might like to make sure we’ve noted the momentous news from Egypt.

Here you are:

FRONT PAGES | Mubarak may step aside

Though the situation in Egypt is considerably less clear than it was last night, major newspapers around the globe led today’s print editions with news that Hosni Mubarak pledged to step aside as president in the fall.

Today, pro-Mubarak demonstrators are trying to engage opponents in Cairo’s streets. We’ll see what happens.

Here’s a gallery of today’s front pages:

FRONT PAGES | State of the Union, 2011

President Obama’s State of the Union Address, in which he veered his agenda to the center of the American political spectrum, outlined a strategy to solve the employment crisis and called for national unity in the pursuit of better, leaner government and greater innovation and education, made newspaper front pages across the land today. Here’s a gallery:

FRONT PAGES | Agony in Arizona

The tragic shootings in Arizona, which left six people dead and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Tucson Democrat, critically injured, are likely to dominate the front pages of America’s major newspapers for days to come.

Enumerable questions remain, of course. The murky motivations of Jared Lee Loughner, the obviously unstable shooter, are ripe for deeper probing. For better and quite possibly for worse, conversations about civility in public discourse and gun control are sure to continue to churn.

Both the Arizona Daily Star, Tucson’s paper, and the Phoenix-based Arizona Republic have been cranking extraordinary coverage of events and will probably vie for Pulitzers when all is said and done.

Here’s a look at front pages from yesterday, Monday, Jan. 10 and today, Tuesday, Jan. 11:



FRONT PAGES | Cuomo, Duffy take reins in Albany

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy went right to work in New York’s capital after taking office at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

Cuomo, the state’s 56th governor, and Duffy, the 76th lieutenant governor, held a staff meeting first thing on Saturday morning and took immediate steps to make the transactions of state government more open and transparent. Cuomo ordered concrete barriers installed in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks removed from the Capitol’s State Street entrance. He also reopened the Hall of Governors to the public; it had been closed during the tenure of former Gov. George Pataki for security reasons.

After an official swearing-in in the Capitol’s War Room that was marked by austerity, Cuomo delivered remarks that set his agenda. Albany, he said, would no longer be in the hands of special interests and lobbyists. A property-tax cap is a must and working to further streamline state government is also a priority, he said.

Here’s a gallery of front pages from Sunday’s New York papers:

FRONT PAGES | New York and the blizzard

We just missed the blizzard that has immobilized much of the New York metropolitan area. On Sunday, we departed my parents’ house in New Jersey just after 8:30 a.m. and drove west toward Buffalo, where snow is dealt with in a civilized, expedient manner.

Colleagues and friends who call our city home are mad as hell. One friend, a Brooklyn resident, posted incredible photos of her Carroll Gardens street on Facebook. The images depict abandoned police prowlers, cabs and city busses. Plows are nowhere to be seen.

Here’s a look at front pages from around the metro area today:

FRONT PAGES | Scrambling after WikiLeaks

WikiLeaksToday’s New York Post.

A number of American and Canadian newspapers devoted front-page real estate to reaction from Washington and Ottawa about the recent release of massive cache of American diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks. The cables — some 250,000 — detail America’s foreign policy in a number of areas, including the war-torn Middle East and Southeast Asia.

David Brooks, writing in today’s Times, examines the difficulties journalists face in covering the release, which has been decried by the Obama administration. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday called the disclosure “an attack on the international community” and its culture of diplomatic rapport.

Here’s a gallery of front pages:

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