Couric's Notebook: 9/11
First, if you missed it last night, there's a recap of Katie's report on 60 Minutes about dust at Ground Zero. This story is provoking a lot of email and viewer response. Check it out.
Earlier yesterday, Bob Schieffer weighed in with a commentary on Face the Nation, explaining clearly and, I think, persuasively, why September 11, 2001 was our finest hour. Nobody could say it better than Bob.
You'll also find an exclusive interview with the United Flight 93 controller. With so much attention focused on New York City today, this is one part of the story we shouldn't overlook.
And, if we needed any reminders that Afghanistan is still a hotspot of violence and terror: there was a suicide bombing today at an Afghan state funeral.
One year later, America endured a day dominated by the poignant, eerie, overwhelmingly sad, long reading from the book of the dead. Nothing the politicians could say, and nothing the television and radio commentators could add, was even remotely as true or as honest as was the simple, windswept recitation at ground zero that took nearly twice as long as it was supposed to.
From the moment former New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani read the name of Gordon M. Aamoth, Jr. until the moment, roughly two-and-a-half hours later, when the name of Igor Zukelman was read, the country was reminded of the elemental toll of last year's terror attacks.
Writing Wednesday in the New York Times, Dan Barry summed it up: "In its essence," Barry wrote, "the World Trade Center calamity is not about geopolitics, or security, or even terrorism. It is about death: a sudden, wholesale death whose aftershocks continue to rumble through the ground of the living, refusing to ease into memory's recesses in conformity with the natural order of things." If the story of Sept. 11, 2001 is essentially a story about death, the story of Sept. 11, 2002 is essentially a story about the dead and how we remember and revere them for the rest of our days and the rest of the life of this nation.
The names of 2,800 or so murdered individuals is an overwhelming concept to contemplate. I remember thinking during the Oklahoma City bombing trial of Timothy McVeigh that it took a long time to recite in court the names of the 168 victims of that terror attack, but that sad list read aloud in 1997 paled in comparison to the list read Wednesday.
Approximately 17 times more people died on Sept. 11, 2001, than died in Oklahoma City. It's not a competition, I know, but comparing the two tolls is another way of comprehending the enormity of the events last September in relation to anything and everything that had come before in our nation's history. And Wednesday's names resonate because they so clearly prove that the World Trade Center was, indeed, a place where the world met to conduct business. Unlike the names from Oklahoma City, the names from New York and Virginia and Pennsylvania were names representing virtually every corner of the world.
There were 13 Lees and two Lins. There three Wrights and five Wongs. There were siz Perezes and six Martinezes and five Ortizes and five Garcias and five Rodriguezes and a Rodrigues and four Suarezes. There was a Jawara and a Yanamadala and a Vamsikrishna and a Srinuan and a Singh and a Mehta and a Malahi and an Abad and an Ajala and a Baksh and a Carstanjen and a Dhanani and an Economos and a Foo and a Gopu and a Ho and an Iskenderian and a Jain and a Kawauchi and a Llanes and a Mardikian and a Narula and an Ogonowski and a Pepe and a Quackenbush and a Ranganath and a Salvaterra and a Takahasi and an Uliano and a two Vales and a Wang and a Yang and a Zampieri.
There were two Cohens. There was a Mohammed and a Hussain. No letter of the alphabet was spared. On September 11, 2001, 255 people with a last name beginning with the letter "S" died - alone more than the entire toll in Oklahoma City.
The names also reflect the nature of New York's marvelous Irish community, which for centuries has supplied the city with, among other things, many of its bravest (firefighters) and its finest (police officers). On Wednesday's list were 15 Murphys and 11 Lynches and four McCarthys and a McDay and a McDermott and a McDonald and two McDonnells and a McDowell. There were nine Kellys and a Kelley and a Kellett. There was a Fitzgerald and a Fitzpatrick and a Fitzsimons.
There were also 10 Joneses and eight Taylors and six Thompsons and five Adamses and five Campbells and five Josephs and four Allens and four Browns and a Browne. There were four Greens and two Greenes and a Greenleaf and a Greenberg and a Greenstein. There were 10 Whites and a Blackman and a Blackwell. There were 16 Smiths and 10 Williamses and seven Millers and six Gardners and six Nelsons and four Lyons and four Murrays and two Hoffmans and two Hoffmanns.
There were 64 people killed on Sept. 11, 2001, whose name began with the letters "Mc." There were 25 people killed on Sept. 11, 2001, whose name began with the letter "O'," from O'Berg to O'Sullivan.
There were four Simmonses and four Simons and a Simone. There were five Youngs and three Yorks and five Fishers and a Fischer. There were five Hughes and three Johnsons and two Ellises and two Sheas (and a Shay and a Shaw) and two Flaggs and two Fields and two Fazios and two Foxes and two Evanses and two Stans and two Byrnes and a Burnside and two Mays and a Mayo and two Spencers and a Spence and three Fosters and a Fosteris.
There were three Burkes and three Burnses and five Egans. There was a Judges and a Small and a Stone and a Stout and a Sword and a Felt and a Rabalais and a Gray and a Bay and a Bell and a Wall and two Temples and a Zion and a Washington and a West and an Urban and a Speer and a Salvo and a Riches and a Park and a Paris and a LaFrance and a Day and a Dale and a Booth and an Oswald and a Bright and a Blood and a Cain and a Hill and a Hunter and a Hurt and a Petti and a Petit and a Doctor.
The names listed here represent only a tiny fraction of the names read aloud Wednesday at the sites of last year's calamity. In some newspapers and on some TV networks, the names were accompanied by a tiny little picture of each victim - a great symbol that in death all were equal.
And from the names and the pictures, you can clearly see that if the aim of the terrorists was to strike at America on behalf of the rest of the world, the demise of the twin towers surely was as much of a public relations disaster as it was a victory for terror. Men and women representing dozens of nations of the world perished in the fire and ash of that day. The terrorists struck at the World Trade Center because it was a symbol of America's financial power. But the result of the strikes showed that the place was actually more a symbol of America's diversity - the source of perhaps an even greater domestic strength.
Anyway, enough. This was a day for leaving the heavy commentary aside. Do yourself a favor. Turn down the volume and just read the names, one by one, as they roll by your television screen or appear in your newspaper or on your computer. It's the fastest, easiest, surest way to comprehend what really happened one year ago and what it really means.
? MMII, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Nonplus n. A condition of perlexity in which one is unable to go, speak or act further. Puzzled.In other words, the incorrect use of 'nonplussed' has left Katie nonplussed.
First Look: The Week Ends
As I mentioned earlier, here at CBS our cupcakes runneth over. Katie has more on that, and what's coming up on the Evening News.
Just click the picture and enjoy. And bon appetite!
I hope to post more in a few days about my first week on the job. (Did you hear I started a new job this week? Actually, it's about 20 jobs. I feel like that guy who used to spin plates on The Ed Sullivan Show…am I dating myself, or what?)
The other day I finally got a chance to start looking at suggestions for my sign off.
I think we can all agree: coming up with a good one is harder than it looks. (Not unlike plate spinning, actually).
There are a few consistent themes. A lot of people liked what I said the first night. ("I'm Katie Couric. Thank you so much for watching. And I hope to see you tomorrow night.") Some viewers think I should just say "Peace." A few suggestions gave me the distinct impression that some people just have too much time on their hands. ("Remember to KNOW news is GOOD news!")
A friend from NBC suggested:
"Everybody have fun tonight. Everybody wang chung tonight."I thought about "Peace out, homies," but I think that's too urban.
And then we got this email from Bob Barker:
"Remember to help the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered. Good night everybody.But my favorite so far? "Keep it real."
Anyway, here are a few from the top of the pile. Enjoy. Follow "Read More" to see the rest. And keep 'em coming!
Good night and here's to a better tomorrow.
Good night, America. I'll be here for tomorrow's news; hope you'll be here, too.
Until next time, I'm Katie Couric, keeping an eye on news that matters to you.
What a wonderful world this would be. For the CBS Evening News, I'm Katie Couric.
All [they] are saying is give peace a chance. For the CBS Evening News, I'm Katie Couric.
That's all, folks! For the CBS Evening News, I'm Katie Couric.
Now you're in synch with the news of the world. I'm Katie Couric. Goodnight.
We have got our eye on the world, thanks for having your eye on us. This is Katie Couric and the CBS News team saying goodnight and we look forward to seeing you tomorrow night!
And that's today's news for tomorrows world.
And that's the view of the world today through the eye of CBS News.
That's a snapshot of our world tonight. Never forget that you're in the picture too.
I'm Katie Couric and I invite you all to C ome B ack S oon for the best in evening news reporting! Good Evening!
Ya'll come back now, ya hear.
And that's today's "Couricosities!"
Thanks for watching. I'm Katie Couric, and I am not just for breakfast anymore.
Until next time, be anchored.
Keep on keepin' on.
May the news be with you.
Steve Hartman's Tuesday report on "The Memory Project" has gotten a huge amount of attention. Scroll down to the post just below and you'll see all the juicy details from his producer. These days, we need all the good news we can find, and "The Memory Project," and the warm reaction to it, is the best news.
Katie's about to make her debut on "60 Minutes" -- set your TiVo! -- and instead of finding a whistleblower, she talks with a finger-pointer.
Susan Zirinsky and her gang from "48 Hours Mystery" sent over cupcakes to celebrate the end of our first week. Susan is our new best friend. (Kindly forgive the infrequent posting, but it's hard to type with chocolate icing on your fingers.)
This just in: our crack research team is compiling some of the more memorable sign-off suggestions we've gotten for Katie. Watch this space. We'll try and post some of them later.
After the cupcakes.
The Memory Project
After our Nicaragua trip with Ben Schumaker back in July, I thought: I think this can be a contender for Katie's first night.
Luckily, my bosses agreed, and I called Ben a couple of days before the piece aired to tell him, and to warn him.
Ben runs the Memory Project on a budget of approx $1,000.
So I wasn't sure what sort of support he had.
So I get him on the phone and I said, Dude, we're on Katie's first night. Get your ducks in a row, cause I got a feeling you're going to get a lot of feedback on this.
Ben said that he was ready and waiting by the phone and the computer.
The piece aired on Tuesday night, and I didn't hear from Ben until the next morning. Usually if someone likes the piece we did about him, we hear about it sooner.
So I was thinking…..did he hate it?
Wednesday 10am: Ben called me at work— he loved the piece and was getting great feedback: a couple hundred emails, 13,000 web page hits and offers of donations.
He was very excited about the amount of teachers who had gotten in touch with him—hoping to join the Memory Project.
He apparently also got a call from someone at the Ellen Degeneres show –they're interested in him.
Thursday afternoon: Here's a snippet from the email he sent me yesterday:
"…the emails are still coming in like a flood.
HUNDREDS of new teachers are signing up... I hope the feedback you've gotten is as good as the stuff I'm getting!"
Friday am: here's what Ben told me this morning:
--"Workaholic in me is getting a big fix now."
He's exhausted from the over 700 emails he's received since Tuesday night. He just finished responding to those ones, and is now beginning to respond to the ones he got from Wednesday of this week on.
And his webiste is going nuts.
--40,000 page hits since Tues night..
-- His previous record for a day on his website was 2,000.
--The night of the show, he received 15,000 hits.
--It's mostly new teachers looking to get involved, which is "just fantastic"
Here's an email he got from his uncle in New Zealand,
"Hey Ben, Last night, as I was getting ready for the hay and reaching for the remote to turn off the tube I caught a 2 second glimpse of a young girl holding a painting of herself and a voice in the background that sounded a bit like yours. It was a preview for the upcoming news at 10:30pm on Chanel 3. It seemed hard to believe that you hit the news here in NZ already, but I taped the program, looked at it this morning, and sure enough, there your CBS segment was, along with your pretty face. The local news show must have picked it up off the CBS international wire. Wild ! ! !And another email from a viewer:
And I'm glad that your book is selling like mad already. Nice going.
"I saw your special on the CBS Evening News and I would love to contribute. Thanks for your work in raising public awareness about orphans in our 3rd world countries! I am adopted so it really makes me happy to hear someone promoting such a worthy cause. Thanks again. Molly"A worthy cause indeed.