In order to prepare for this assignment, I wanted to relive the experience and the emotion of the event. While reviewing the event on the internet, I was struck by the series of personal videos that were captured by people – innocent bystanders – of the event. These people were the ones who captured the initial news that was brought to the American public that day. These people were the ones who made the news possible. It is this personal footage that defined the event, and that every major news station turned to for documentation. It is this personal footage that made this horrific event history.

Tourists in Battery Park, similar to myself over the summer, had their cameras handy for any photographic opportunity. But, they quickly became instantaneous filmmakers documenting one of the most prolific events in the world’s history. In one particular clip, a person standing a few blocks from the park screams “Oh My God!” The camera person leans to his left a little bit and captures the second plane, United Airlines Flight 175 (175) banking hard left into the center structure of the South World Trade Center building (WTC 2). The plane explodes and the people scream in violent terror (2nd Plane WTC). Another view from a rooftop in Brooklyn shows a few people watching the event as 175 crashes into WTC 2. The camerawoman begins to scream when the explosion occurs and soon after begins to cry (Unseen 9/11 Footage Released by FBI).

Perhaps the most gut wrenching video I saw came from the ground and was taken from a few blocks away. A man holding the camera not only captures the collapse of the North World Trade Center building, but captures the voices of the civilians below. The man standing next to the cameraman repeats “oh my God” in a crescendo several times before he erupts in tears; his tears last for a few seconds before he begins to scream. He then resumes crying and the clip ends with people running down the street trying to escape the cluster of smoke headed their way (Septeber 11, 2001 – As it Happend – The South Tower Attack).

Looking back at the experience I had living in New York City this past summer, I can vividly remember my feelings of walking down the street near a corner cafe, hearing the sounds of the city, faces of the people as everyone goes about their day. But what I cannot fathom is looking up at the two largest buildings in all of New York City and seeing a Boeing 767 crashing into the massive structures. I also cannot imagine the terror that insisted when not one – but both – 110-story buildings collapsed upon the city, killing nearly 3,000 people and injuring thousands more.

I showed these personal clips to a friend of mine in England, as well as my roommate, who was living in Jersey City the day of the attacks, to see if either could recall the media’s standpoint. It seemed all they could recall were those personal experiences – the ones much like the personal videos used by the news media to cover the events.

My friend from England, who was 12 years old at the time, said: “When I saw the clips, I was reminded of how horrific the acts were. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be there that day. I was pretty young when 9/11 happened. I remember the media making a big deal about it, as well as America’s stand on ‘the war on terror’. I remember when we first announced our alliance with you on the war. It brings back nervous feelings I had as war frightens me (Marsh).” While the media covered the actual events through these video recordings, it eventually turned into a discussion on the future of the country. But regardless of location, it seems it was those first-hand images that defined and recorded the events of that day, even for someone so young as twelve.

When I showed my roommate the clips, a big discussion ensued. A native of Jersey City, he was close Ground Zero where the attacks occurred. He was in Middle School at the time and was able to watch the events on the TV for a while until the principal mandated everyone to the gymnasium. There, he said, the principal tried to tell everyone what was going on. He said many of the students were hysterical because many of their parents worked at the World Trade Center complex, including his dad. School was canceled a few hours later and his mother picked him up. He remembers getting in the car and his mother was crying. She said she had heard from his father and that he was OK, but she was still quite upset. My roommate also described his dad walking in the door covered in ash that night. He said he said “it was the most fear I had ever felt (Wise).” Wise’s experience is not one that can be recreated by any amount of journalism. Those were feelings that arose from a vision he saw first-hand. Wise’s feelings are much like mine and my English friend’s – pure disbelieve – only to be disproved by the facts of the videos that plastered the news stations.

Personal footage I believe is a real as it gets. There is no bias, there are no lies, just raw video accounts depicting the events as they occur from civilians like me. Youtube has been the best source for reliving, revisiting, and reviewing September 11th. It has provided an outlet for people to remember and to document our history, something for the national and foreign presses to rely on.