Remembering 9/11: Incredible Raw Video Shows Rick Leventhal Interviewing Survivors at Ground Zero as North Tower Collapses
This remarkable footage shows Fox News Channel Reporter Rick Leventhal conducting interviews near ground zero on September 11, 2001. The shock and horror of those who witnessed the planes crash into the towers, and who watched as the South Tower collapsed, is palpable. The video chillingly ends with the fall of the North Tower. Watch below, and read Rick Leventhal's reflections on the day.
Rick Leventhal reflects on September 11:
It's the only story that still gives me chills. Every time I see the video, every time it comes up in conversation, my body reacts right along with my brain.
I carry the events of 9/11 with me always. I don't consider it a blessing or a curse, although it may be a little of both. It's just part of my fabric now, because I was there that morning, rushing to Lower Manhattan from my office, using my press credentials to reach the last wall of police officers a block north of the North Tower. Fortunately, they refused to let me get any closer although I argued with them about it at the time.
When I left Midtown, only one tower had been hit, and I'll never forget the awful wave of realization when I asked a female officer what happened to the second tower and she said, "that's where the second plane hit." It was immediately obvious to me, as it was for many others, that we were under attack.
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I'm told I was the first reporter to go live from ground zero. There may have been others on just before or just after. I don't know for sure, and it's not something I talk about often, but I do know our truck was one of the few to make it to the scene, thanks to Pat Butler, a Fox Satellite Engineer who managed to park on Church Street, four blocks from the WTC.
Our signal was strong and our shot was up before the first tower fell, and while we had to move the truck several times that day, we didn't stop reporting until about 16 hours later.
I've never faced a tougher challenge as a journalist than I did that morning, stopping people in the street to ask them what they'd seen and heard and experienced and reporting on the events live to our viewers. The survivors' stories were vivid, chilling, remarkable and terrifying. It was nearly impossible to process the events they described as real, even though I was living it along with them. I didn't want to push people to talk to me and indeed chose not to try and stop a number of people who appeared dazed or shell-shocked. I'm told it can be cathartic to talk about traumatic events, and I did my best to be considerate and careful with my questions; I only hope that everyone who managed to get out of the towers or stay out of their way as they fell has been able to deal with what happened and isn't suffering today.
A dark cloud parked itself over Manhattan for weeks and months after that day. The city was in mourning. Downtown was basically closed, and it seemed everyone knew someone who died, or knew someone who knew someone lost in the attacks, and while the pain eased over time, the slow pace of rebuilding the World Trade Center has been a source of frustration and some anger.
That's changing now. For the first time, we're hearing words like "progress" and "pride." The Freedom Tower, the crown jewel of the reborn site, is 80 stories tall and growing by the day. The 9/11 Memorial is set to open to families on 9/11 and the public on 9/12. Hundreds of trees have been planted and waterfalls fill the footprints of the Twin Towers, creating an atmosphere described as "peaceful" and "calm".
Construction is far from over and complaints are sure to continue about noise and design and cost and it's still not clear how the anniversary will be marked going forward.
I, for one, will continue to pay my respects, on every September 11 and every other day of every year.
Tune in to Fox News Reporting: Timeline of Terror Tonight at 10p ET as Fox News Channel looks back at the moments that changed America forever.