What was it like being a Black White House reporter with Bush on September 11?

0


EXCLUSIVE: April Ryan du Grio chats with former AP White House reporter Sonya Ross, who was part of the very first nuclear bunker press pool in US history

As a black journalist with nearly 25 years in the White House, I have witnessed many national tragedies. But every year since September 11, 2001, the anniversary has always brought me sadness and a frightening thought of what it must have been like to be with the President as the attacks on our shores were occurring.

US President George W. Bush speaks to Vice President Dick Cheney by telephone aboard Air Force One on September 11, 2001 after leaving Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Draper / The White House / Getty Images)

Planes have been used as missiles to bring down symbols of the United States – the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A plane was shot down in Shanksville, Pa., Believed to have been en route to the District of Columbia.

For those old enough to remember that day 20 years ago, it was a beautiful clear blue sky in the mid-Atlantic region. I remember being home packing for the morning drive to the White House when the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York City. I immediately sensed that it was a terrorist attack, remembering that years ago there had been an attempt to demolish the towers with a car bomb in the garage of the ‘one of the buildings with more than 100 floors.

The second plane that crashed into the World Trade Center was caught on TV. I couldn’t believe it. I hurried to work. then president George W. Bush was in Florida and wanted to go to the Information and Decision-Making Center. As I was trying to get into the White House, the Secret Service removed my fellow reporters in case another attack was in progress, possibly aimed at the White House.

An American flag flies over the White House in Washington on Saturday, January 9, 2021 (AP Photo / Patrick Semansky)

An American flag flies above the White House in Washington on Saturday, January 9, 2021 (AP Photo / Patrick Semansky)

I couldn’t get to work because the traffic was obstructed and the phones were blocked. I came home. The only people who could communicate were those who had the most recent technology at the time, that of BlackBerry, which made it possible to send text messages.

I returned home but looked for colleagues from other companies to see if they were safe. One of those I reached out to was then-Associated Press White House reporter Sonya ross. She was in the presidential pool that day in Florida.

It was a historic day. What is not as well known about that day is that there were four black members of the White House Press Corps. travel with the president.

“It’s very important for posterity, for people to understand who these four people were, who did this nuclear bunker duty like that, God forbid, if we ever have to evacuate another president like that. But the assumption would be that African Americans notoriously lacked something like this. And that’s just not true, ”said Ross. leGrio. “Three of the four in the very first nuclear media bunker pool in American history were black.”

Ross gave details of what she describes as a “rapid series of events.”

After the Florida school speech, Air Force One took off. Ross said: “We were going around in circles for a while, finally [White House Press Secretary] Ari [Fleischer] came back to talk to us… and told us things like what the president had done, ”she added. The president had spoken to world leaders and his team in Washington.

US President George W. Bush (center) makes a phone call as White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett points to video footage of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center at Emma Booker Elementary School on September 11, 2001 in Sarasota, Florida.  (Photo by Eric Draper / White House / Getty Images)

US President George W. Bush (center) makes a phone call as White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett points to video footage of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center at Emma Booker Elementary School on September 11, 2001 in Sarasota, Florida. (Photo by Eric Draper / White House / Getty Images)

Each year after the attack, the nation paid tribute to those who perished by recounting the memories of that day and by learning from family members and friends of the victims.

On Saturday 20th anniversary, the president Joe biden visits the three sites of the attack in memory of those who died on September 11, 2001 – rescuers, people on planes and those in buildings.

Since the attacks, the United States has put its boots on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq and recently withdrew its troops from Afghanistan. But in those 20 years, a new and closer threat has emerged to challenge our internal security – our own compatriots. January 6, 2021 is another date like September 11 that we will never forget. This marks a shift in our focus abroad on our domestic threats.

One week before September 11, insurgent sympathizers plan to return to Washington, a city so grieved by the death of the Pentagon on September 11 and police tortured on September 6. My years of political analysis and reporting tell me these dates will be. intertwined in the years to come like bookends of terror for the nation.

Have you subscribed to the Grio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our latest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio.com today!

The post What was it like being a Black White House reporter with Bush on September 11? first appeared on TheGrio.


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.