“The sight of those two mammoth aluminum-faced slabs is annoyingly familiar. I didn’t realize what they reminded me of, however, until I opened a box of staples. “
Glenn Collins, New York Times 1972
I don’t write about this every year, but every year, I’m reminded of the tragedy and humanity of that day. And it, I guess as it should, never sits right in my heart.
Tragedy happens every day. And when it doesn’t impact our lives on a personal level, we tend to feel for those that were impacted, and then we move on with our lives. But whether or not we were there on that day, and whether or not we were old enough to understand, and whether or not we were even alive when it happened – it impacted us all. If you don’t know someone personally affected by 9/11, you know someone who does. The events of that day connected us all. The stories of 9/11 belongs to all of us and it’s our duty as Americans to keep the memories alive for future generations.
I was in the 3rd grade in 2001. We just moved to Chesapeake, VA and we were living on a military base. I was obviously not mature enough to fully comprehend the magnitude of what was happening as kids left school early, and teachers were choking back tears and staying glued to any phones they could get their hands on. I still didn’t understand after waiting twice as long to get home on the bus, having our school bus inspected by men in bullet proof vests and big guns, and watching it on TV with my parents. I simply didn’t understand. I didn’t understand what it was, what was happening, why it was happening, or what this meant for our futures. Every year following that day, I seem to understand a little more- the true gravity of the situation and how it has changed our country.
But like any other memory, the memories of that day will fade with the generations. Most high schoolers now weren’t alive when 9/11 occurred. It’s history to them. So every year, make sure to give some of your time back to that day, in the name of remembering. Watch movies and documentaries. Hear people’s stories and tell your own. Educate people that are younger than you, that may not really grasp the magnitude of this tragedy. Make them listen so when they’re older and able to understand, they will.
Remember, so we can all continue to appreciate the enormity of what happened that day.
On September 11, 2001, the day began just as any other. People that were in New York will tell you the weather was beautiful, the sun was shining and there was a breeze. People grabbed coffees, ate breakfast, walked to work. They took the subway, they rode their bikes, just like any other day.
3 planes were hijacked. They threatened commuters and airline employees with box cutters and took control of the air crafts. 2 were driven into the World Trade Center, and one landed in a field in PA, killing everyone on board. Both buildings came down soon after the crashes, sending debris and smoke throughout lower Manhattan.
People watched from the ground and from their apartment buildings, wondering what in the actual hell was going on. No one knew what was happening, if it was over, or where to go for safety.
Ground Zero, which is what responders referred to as “the pile” – was a 20-story tall pile of steel and debris. I can’t even begin to imagine how responders even.. I mean. Where do you start? One story I watched, a man said it was like “excavating Mount Everest with a teaspoon.”
They continued to recover bodies for months. Some families waited years for the remains of their loved ones to be recovered.
The phone lines were jammed. People couldn’t contact their loved ones. Responders and other people that were there that day, hesitate to even recall the happenings of that event. The burning of the insulation. The sounds. The smells of destruction, jet fuel, and fire. The voids under their feet at the recovery site. The screaming, as people ran through the the streets while they were literally living a nightmare. The sounds of the many PASS devices ringing in their ears. And the feeling of dark uncertainty that was so persistent it was impossible to ignore.
Lost their lives on impact.
Fell from the buildings as a last ditch effort to escape the fire.
Fell victim to falling debris.
Couldn’t get out of the buildings before they collapsed.
Died saving others.
Missing person posters were posted all over the city. Millions of them. There was no clear surface on any of the streets of New York following that day.
American flags flew high and proud across the country.
And for the survivors- PTSD, depression, and anxiety ravish the minds of so many. Families were left mourning the lives of the people they loved, not able to understand how someone could carry out such a horrible act. How they could hurt people they didn’t know. They were confused, afraid, and utterly heartbroken. Many didn’t get to speak to their loved ones that morning, and those that did got a feeling of pure panic and desperation on the other line.
Everyone is aware of the story of what happened that day. But the details… These parts of history are important to remember. They’re important to talk about. They keep that day alive. And as painful as it is to relive, it’s important that we do so as to preserve these memories for as long as we can.
Movies & other videos that I’ve found both informative and thought/emotion provoking:
- Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Netflix)
- Seconds from Disaster (Youtube)
- 9/11: Stories in Fragments (Netflix)
- United 93
- The Lost Tapes of September 11 (9/11 History Documentary) (Youtube)
- Fahrenheit 9/11
Final 5 minutes: 911 Call in World Trade Center, while tower collapses (Youtube)
New 9/11 audio recordings released (Youtube)
Voices from Inside the Towers (9/11 Documentary) (Youtube)
Discovery under the rubble that shook a family – 9/11 (Youtube)