September 7, 2011 2:01:22 PM PDT
We're finalizing our rundowns today for the 10th anniversary coverage of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Our stories are done - and they are remarkable I think, both in capturing the emotion of that day and, more importantly, looking forward from the perspective of the people most involved and affected. Our coverage begins at 6:00 that morning, and just about the entire station is involved. I'll be at Ground Zero again, this year with Lori Stokes, who was on the air for us that morning as the towers were attacked. And then I'll be back for the evening newscasts to report on the day's events.

Today, another example of just how raw the emotions still are from the terror attacks.

The union representing New York City Firefighters fired off an angry statement, offering how "deeply disappointed" they are that they have been "excluded from attending and participating" in the 10th anniversary memorial.

"It would have been an honor to stand alongside the families who lost loved ones that day," the union wrote. "Firefighters and fire officers have strong emotional ties to all the victims, as we were the ones trying to save them. They needed us 10 years ago, and we are certain that they will need us again, if God forbid there is another terrorist attack."

Mayor Bloomberg, meanwhile, playing the role of a host with far more requests to attend than he can handle, is in the rather delicate position of having to say, "Sorry, but we're booked."

The Mayor quickly responded by insisting that first responders - fire, police and Port Authority personnel - "will be represented at and play an important role in the ceremony, as they have for the last 9 years. First responders will open the ceremony by bringing in the WTC flag, for the national anthem, an honor guard will remain on stage throughout the entire ceremony, they will ring the ceremonial bell that marks the 6 moments of silence, and they will close the ceremony with taps."

But the Mayor also makes it clear that there simply isn't room this year to accommodate everyone, because more family members of the victims are expected.

Tense, as I said.

And speaking of tense, security is high as there's a palpable feeling that some Al Qaeda member of sympathizer will use the 10th anniversary to try to pull off some type of action in New York. Osama bin Laden wrote about his desire for another attack to mark the decade anniversary. And since his killing, authorities planning the memorial have taken security even more seriously.

The Pentagon has jumped onboard the heightened security, raising protection levels at military bases around the country.

The emphasis on security isn't just about security that day. Tonight at 11, our investigative reporter Jim Hoffer takes an in-depth look at how building codes in New York City have been changed to make high-rises safer. He also looks at ways the City has fallen down on making that happen. It's an eye-opening investigative report, tonight at 11.

In the end of course, this anniversary is about remembering the people who were killed in the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.

We at Eyewitness News remember our engineer, Don DiFranco, who was atop the World Trade Center when the planes hit. Our former assignment editor Howard Price, now Director of Business Continuity and Crisis Management for ABC News, has written a moving remembrance of Don and the handful of other local TV engineers who died that day.

Here's what Howard wrote:

"My former WABC-TV colleague, Don DiFranco. The consummate perfectionist who reveled in telling vendors how to build a better transmitter. When the attack began, Don called the station from the 110th floor transmission room at 1 World Trade Center to warn there was a problem. The phone call was his first - and his last.

"WNBC's Bill Steckman usually worked the night shift, so he could spend more time with his family during the day. But on 9/11, some new equipment was scheduled for installation, and Bill always liked being around when new technology arrived. When the first plane struck 1 WTC, Bill called his station to tell them he was powering down - and getting out. He never made it.

"WPIX's Steve Jacobson was, like me, an avid amateur radio operator in his spare time. He loved the science of RF, loved the Channel 11 transmitter as if it were human. Once used his shoelaces to help revive it when it suddenly went off the air."

WCBS was twice cursed - losing two of its engineers in the attacks. One, Isaias Rivera, had survived the 1993 bombing at the WTC; Bob Pattison had a fondness for the Sunday crosswords, and had just recently held his then-two-week-old niece for the first time.

"And WNET's Rod Coppola? His love of music prompted the New York Times to call him "The Rock and Roll Grandpa." Like so many of us, he built his first radio station before he was a teenager.

"All smart men. Talented men. Men well respected, and devoted to their craft, their colleagues, their families and communities. And day in and day out, they worked where few of us likely would want to work. High above the earth, amid rooms filled with high-voltage equipment. Underneath large amounts of radiation. They were men in love with the magic and mystery that is television.

"They were cut down in the prime of life. But I suspect that if we could ask them how each would like to be remembered, they'd tell us to pursue excellence, be passionate about our profession, take time to smell life's roses - and apply the lessons of that terrible day to remain vigilant. To always prepare for the unthinkable.

I hope you'll take a moment to learn more about each of these men by logging onto the links below. And learn more about how the New York radio and television community rebounded from the loss of the WTC transmitter site by listening to the Audio Engineering Society podcast of a presentation in which I participated two years after the attacks. That link, too, follows below.

Don, Steve, Bill, Isaias, Bob, Rod - ten years later, the legacies of your lives still send powerful signals to all who knew and loved you. Signals that will never fade."

Well said Howie.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg with his AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.


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