Attack on America: Sept. 11, 2001

ROGER GOODMAN: I remember after the first tower fell, looking at Peter's face. His face was just turned white. He tried to stay as calm as he could. Then the second building fell…he just wanted total silence. He wanted us all to sit back for a second and just reflect on what was going on. We could not believe what our eyes were seeing.

DAVID WESTIN: It started Tuesday morning and we were on nonstop until midnight, Friday night, without a pause, without a commercial break, with no break whatsoever. It was almost a hundred hours, and Peter was on the air for over sixty of those hours.

ROGER GOODMAN: Once again, the information from that large encyclopedia, that large computer of his brain just downloaded, as he tried to ease us all through it. Peter truly was the captain of the ship. We watched him—we watched his face, we watched his expressions—and he really led us through probably one of the most difficult programs that I've ever covered, or moments that I've ever been involved with in my life.

BARBARA WALTERS: During 9/11, he was close to tears several times. He was also exhausted. He was never off the air, but he knew that his presence whenever you tuned in, that his being there said something. It said, "We're going to be okay. We're going to get through this, and we're going to get through this together."

PETER JENNINGS: For me, there was one very tough moment in the middle of the day. I turned around and on the desk behind me there was a message from my children, just saying they'd called…And I just lost it. And I turned around to the audience and said, "Now we've all got to talk to our children. We must talk. You must call your children." And that was the only moment that I just thought, "Hey, get it together, Jennings. You're losing it here."

LYNN SHERR: One of the seminal moments was when he said to the viewers, "Why don't you call your children and see how they're doing?" That's a pretty amazing thing to say when the world is falling down around you. Of course, it's the first thing you want to think about. But he said it.

MARC BURSTEIN: I was sitting in the control room at that point, wondering about my own children. I don't think there was anybody watching who wasn't. All of a sudden, Peter gave you license to think about your children. It was okay to think about something less than the big picture.

JEFF GRALNICK: The worse a circumstance got, the uglier the story was, the calmer Peter became….He was the voice of sanity during periods of insanity, which is what a broadcaster needs to be. You know the story about ducks swimming? It looks easy above the water. Nobody knew what was going on under the water when Peter was on the air. He was just steady. Steady and complete.

Sources:

"For me, there was one…" Interview by Larry King, Larry King Live, CNN, April 10, 2002.

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