SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Every Independence Day is meaningful, but some take on a more significant role.
2002 was like that, as it was the first Fourth of July after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. In our continuing celebration of 65 years at WTOC, Ken Griner takes a look back at that particular Independence Day.
The nation was still reeling from the terrorist attacks 10 months earlier, when nearly 3,000 Americans lost their lives. The country was trying to get back to normal, or at least what could be close to the way things were before that day.
“Because we had been afraid for a year, it took on this incredible significance. We weren’t going to be afraid anymore. We were going to gather in public. We were going to gather to celebrate the nation. It was huge," said WTOC’s Creative Director, Craig Harney.
All military bases had basically cut off any ties to civilian events, including Parris Island, but they saw this July 4 as a great opportunity to open it back up and celebrate America, and WTOC wanted to be sure to be part of that.
Mike Manhatton hosted the events of that day and set the stage for the celebration.
“Manhatton was always spectacular off the top of his head. He understood moments in a way that very few ever did.”
In the end, it seemed to work for the military, the civilians, and WTOC.
“We worked our tails off. It was hard. It was hard, but it was very successful. It was because I thought it was huge, symbolically, for our part of the country," Harney said.
Another anecdote that Craig told us was back on that dreadful day of Sept. 11, true or not, word had gotten out that Marine One was spotted in the Beaufort area, as Parris Island was the safe spot for President George W. Bush, so the area felt an extra bond to that day.
If you’d like to take a look back at the history of our station, click here.