It can safely be said that every American has been touched in some way by the terrorist attacks carried out against our country on September 11th. Whether or not an individual had a physical tie to a loved one lost or injured in these tragedies, everyone, everywhere felt the loss and heartbreak.
Indeed the soap opera world - the world millions of Americans tune into each weekday as a way to escape their every day lives - was also rocked by these tragic events.
In New York City, cast members huddled around a television screen in As The World Turns' Brooklyn studios, watching what was then believed to be an aviation mishap: a plane had crashed into north tower of the World Trade Center. Just eighteen minutes later, everyone realized the horrific reality of the situation. It was no accident. A second hijacked plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.
Almost immediately thereafter, production of the four soaps New York-based -- ABC's All My Children and One Life to Live ceased production as did CBS's Guiding Light and As the World Turns -- abruptly halted. Indeed, this was a daytime drama of a truly gruesome nature.
According to reports, Bob Jiminez, a reporter for Los Angeles radio station KFWB, said that his daughter, Jessica Jiminez (Catalina Quesada, Guiding Light), was forced to walk some 50 blocks to her home after the cast and crew of Guiding Light were dismissed early on Tuesday.
Soap Central was flooded with inquiries from fans who knew that at least one soap star had possible ties to the World Trade Center tower. Michael McMahon, the husband of Emmy winner Martha Byrne (Lily Snyder and Rose D'Angelo, As The World Turns), works for the New York City Police Department. Early Wednesday, as many as 280 firefighters and 80 police department members were unaccounted for and feared dead. However, a statement from Byrne's family assured fans that McMahon was safe.
"Martha Byrne and her husband Michael are fine," the family said in a statement "Thank you so much for your concern. Please keep your thoughts and prayers with them as Michael's family members are involved in the rescue effort."
Cameron Mathison (Ryan Lavery, All My Children) also alerted his fans of his well-being on his official web site.
"Thanks for all the concern," wrote Mathison in a message board posting. "I apologize for not being able to post earlier. [I]t has been...well...sureal. I am lucky enough to say that I, and everyone I know are ok. [L]ets hope and pray for those who are missing, and their families."
From actress Marj Dusay (Vanessa Cortlandt, All My Children; ex Alexandra Spaulding, Guiding Light) comes a plea for calm. "Please, everyone say a prayer, many prayers for all those in need right now. Please no hate. Send out only love at this moment. [This attack] is the kind of thing that hate leads to."
Australian native Paul Leyden (Simon Frasier, As The World Turns) resides in an area just blocks away from the New York "war zone." "If anyone told me when I came to the States to work on ATWT I would one day witness such a tragic and horrific event I would have had them committed. Being in NYC right now is surreal. It is a war zone....the feeling in the air is bizarre," write Leyden. "My place is just outside the evacuated zone but I got back here last night to an apartment covered in dust and debris. It makes me feel sick constantly to think that this actually happened. But gives me incredible pride as a person who lives in NYC to see the people rally together and bond in the light of such a dispicable attack. [..] To any of you out there that have family, friends involved in any of these tragic circumstances....my heart, my compassion, my prayers, love and support go out to you. Take care all."
Regrettably, not every story coming out of this dark day in American history has a happy ending. At press time, thousands of people were still unaccounted for. At least one of the victims has ties to the Soap Central; the brother of a Soap Central visitor was aboard one of the planes that slammed into the World Trade Center.
No words can express our sympathy to all those whose lives were irreparably altered by these senseless acts of cowardice and hatred. Perhaps some level of comfort can be found in knowing that millions of people around the world hold everyone affected by these tragedies - in Manhattan, Western Pennsylvania and Washington, DC - in their thoughts and prayers.