Many readers were moved by the story of New York bureau reporter Geraldine Baum’s 9/11 journal and her reminiscences about that day.
Baum learned about the attacks after dropping off her children at school. As she tells it, she didn’t have a notebook with her, or proper shoes. Her notes scribbled into the brown leather journal — quickly handed to her by her husband before she rushed toward the World Trade Center — relate her observations, fear and even flashes of anger.
This summer, she used those notes to try to retrace her steps, and she found a couple of the people she’d encountered on Sept. 11, 2001.
Several readers wrote to say they’d been brought to tears by the article. Others wanted to share their own stories and memories of that day.
“I found your 9/11 piece unbelievably moving. You talk about other people’s courage, but being a good reporter, you ignore your own. Thanks for having the guts to keep moving on that terrible day, and for being able to re-create it with such force, grace, and admirable lack of sentimentality.”
“Thank you for the outstanding article which captured the essence of, perhaps, the worst day in this country’s history. I was captivated by your personal story and those of the others about whom you wrote. Brilliant reporting and fascinating writing.”
“I’m 27 years old and have been reading the L.A. Times since I was a little kid, and I’m not sure any story hit me emotionally the way your ‘journal’ story did today. The way you depicted the scenes you saw and the feelings you felt was remarkable, I was truly in tears this morning reading A1, which is not something easy to do to a 27-year-old man. Thank you for sharing your emotions on the day, and a thanks to [Kelly] Baldillo and [Walter] Pilipiak as well. Their stories are ones I won’t soon forget.”
“I am always in awe of people who recount their experiences with such eloquence and was brought to tears by yours. I loved the personal feeling that I got when I read it, as though I was with you as you were walking the streets that day, talking to all of those different people. I was pregnant with my second child when I watched the ‘Early Show’ that day, as the plane crashed into the second tower. I will not ever be able to fully express to my kids how I felt that day. I still get choked up when I think about it.”
“Thank you for your absolutely compelling article. As a Staten Island, N.Y., native now living in San Diego, and a professor of writing, your story was riveting. I will actually be in N.Y. on this year’s 10th anniversary and plan to bring your article with me.”
“Thank you for sharing your story. Reading your piece gave me the chills as I recall the horror. You brought tears to my eyes but also a smile to my face when I read the generosity of fellow Americans in the time of need.”
“Thank you for a story well-written. … I was 3,000 miles away then and now but still feel very connected to the events of that day. I appreciate your recollection of the day and would say that it is very important to always remember! I don’t ever want to forget and hope that those of us that were alive that day never will.”
“You have, through personal trauma and professional dedication, done a service for every reader, because we all need to travel that road and face 9/11 again. It marked each American, and it will most likely take centuries to fully assimilate its meaning and effects. God knows we haven’t really absorbed the Civil War yet, so being only a decade removed from Sept. 11 is truly just a breath away. Thank you for moving history a little bit further along.”
This column was originally published on LATimes.com on Aug. 23, 2011.