September 11, 2015 | Posted in:Social TV

Remembering 9/11

Remembering 9/11

This post was first published on September 17, 2012.

I’m writing this post today because I couldn’t settle down and find the words to write it last week when the world took the time to remember 11 years since the 9-11 terrorist attack.  It’s hard to imagine that 11 years have gone by since my memories of that morning and the days after covering the biggest breaking news story in my lifetime are still fresh in mind.

Like so many other people I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when the world changed forever.

I remember September 11, 2001, being  a crisp and clear day.

I remember being in the CBS News ‘The Early Show’ green room prepping my guest for a post-tape that was scheduled to happen after the live show went off the air.

I remember minutes before the show close seeing the breaking news banner flash across the screen and Bryant Gumbel announce that a plane had crashed into  the twin towers.

I remember the stillness in the green room as we all watched on the monitor the breaking news unfold.

I remember telling my guest the post-tape would be rescheduled.

I remember being told to go downtown and try to book guests, but then being told to go to the office instead.

I remember stepping out to 59th Street and 5th Avenue and looking downtown to see smoke rising up into the sky.

I remember getting back to the 57th Street CBS office and gathering in the newsroom to watch as another plane crashed into the Pentagon.

I remember trying to call my friends and family to find out where everyone was and not being able to get through on the phone line.

I remember researching and finding the names of victims, their family, friends, or survivors and calling them to have them tell their story on our show.

I remember hearing their tears through the phone as they told me their stories.

I remember the show going live 24/7 for several days.

I remember watching over and over the video of the planes crashing into the towers, the towers falling, and the soot-covered people running for their lives.

I remember feeling sick to my stomach and so sad watching it unfold.

I remember working three days straight without going home and taking quick naps on fellow producer Carol Story’s couch in her office.

I remember lots of food being ordered to our conference room to keep our bellies full as we worked through the long days and nights.

I remember eventually being told to go home by my executive producer Lyne Pitts, getting home, and finally crying from exhaustion and sadness.

I remember seeing soldiers with guns in the street patrolling as I walked to work after the attack.

I remember the local firehouses draped with candles and wreaths for the fallen firefighters.

I remember watching on television what seemed like never-ending funerals for those fallen firefighters with their wives and children walking alongside the coffins.

I remember New Yorkers were filled with exceptional kindness.

I remember wondering if things would ever be “normal” again.

But mostly, I remember meeting some incredible people who in their grief took the time to share their personal stories with the world on CBS News ‘The Early Show’.

I remember meeting LaShawn Clark, whose husband chef Benjamin “Keefe” Clark died in the attack on the World Trade Center, leaving her with their five children to raise.  The show fell in love with this family from the moment we met them.  The couple’s teenage son Chaz was a senior at Stuyvesant High School and watched the towers fall from his classroom.

We couldn’t bring his dad back, but when Chaz became one of the first recipients of a United Negro College Fund scholarship for children of September 11 victims, we surprised him on the show with the news.  It was an opportunity to move on even though his dad wouldn’t be around to see it. The family eventually left New York City in 2003 to start a new life and Chaz graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. We had the family back in 2006 after his graduation. To view the story, click here.

I never saw LaShawn and her kids again until this May. Eleven years after the tragic attack on 9-11, I ran into LaShawn Clark-Moore in New York City at a food conference. We screamed, cried, and hugged each other in the middle of the food expo floor. She looked amazing and said the kids were great.

Debbie Mitchell with LaShawn Clark- Moore. Husband Ben "Keefe" Clark died in 9-11 Photo courtesy Debbie Mitchell

Debbie Mitchell with LaShawn Clark-Moore, whose husband, Ben “Keefe” Clark, died on 9-11
Photo courtesy Debbie Mitchell

LaShawn had opened a catering business in her new hometown, remarried, and had another child. I was happy to hear it!

During the challenging coverage of 9/11/2001, I remember thinking as everyone is running from the danger and falling towers, journalists are running to it. I also remember thinking I had to get out of the news business; it wasn’t for me.

After seeing LaShawn Clark-Moore this year, it made me realize that as difficult as September 11 was to cover as a producer, the experience helped me to grow and left me with professional memories I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Photo Credit: Joan Massel Soncini

Photo Credit: Joan Massel Soncini

TV/Social Media Producer Debbie Mitchell is an Emmy-nominated producer who is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA).  She is currently a member of the James Beard Broadcast and New Media Awards Committee.  If you are interested in “Book Case TV” or are a brand interested in Social TV, blogger outreach campaigns, or a blogger or personality interested in television placement, follow Debbie Mitchell @SocialTVDeb and/or email

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