9/11 Special Edition Roundtable
Sept. 10, 2021
Our series of interviews marking 20-years since the attacks of September 11th concludes tonight with two people who were right in the middle of the tragic event for different reasons. We welcome Mary Jo Pitzl of the Arizona Republic and Former U.S. Congressman Jim Kolbe.
The 9/11 Special Edition Roundtable covered:
- Where they were when it happened
- What the country was like pre-9/11 and post-9/11
Where were you when 9/11 happened?
Congressman Jim Kolbe: “I was in my office early in the morning and one of my staff came in and said ‘oh my gosh, a small plane hit the World Trade Center.’ I looked down and my first thought was that it sure did not look like a small plane. I went back to working on my materials, thinking it was just an accident. Then a scream came out: ‘oh my god.’ I looked up just in time to see the second plane hit the second tower and I then knew what this was all about. That’s when they started telling people to get out of the building.”
Mary Jo Pitzl: “I was on my back patio painting window frames and I stepped into the house and had my radio playing and I heard them in passing saying something about the markets being closed. And I’m like ‘This is Tuesday, markets aren’t closed on Tuesday’s, what’s that?’ I gave it a closer listen and realized what was going on and as a print journalist I ran to my television and turned it on to catch the news and call the desk to find out where to go and we were deployed all across the city.”
What was the country like before 9/11 and how and why did it change?
Congressman Jim Kolbe: “My best memory of that day is that evening when they had called us back into the capital after things had calmed down and we knew there weren’t more planes full of attackers. It was dusk on the steps of the capitol as we gathered there and spontaneously, the whole house, republicans and democrats burst into singing ‘God Bless America’ and the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ as well. It was a moment of incredible coming together.”
Mary Jo Pitzl: “I think it made journalists more in tuned to the partisan divides and perhaps we play into that. It has also brought up a lot of stories of humanity, especially in the aftermath of the 9/11 victims. There was a heightened awareness of cultural diversity that we have in this country and recognizing that and helping to educate people about that.”