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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

Courtesy of State_Department_Images WTC_9-11-Twin_Towers

     September 11, 2001 is seared into our memories, our hearts and our souls—the horrendous sight of two jet airliners hijacked and flown by terrorists into The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York City. A third jet striking the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, a fourth—the cockpit taken over by terrorists who turned the plane southeast toward our nation’s Capital. Before it could hit its destination—forty passengers and crew members devised a plan to fight back and began a disruption. The plane plunged—at 563-miles per hour—into a field near Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Seven thousand gallons of fuel exploded—the conflagration soared killing everyone on board.
     Vivid pictures of that day return when we remember where we were and what we were doing when we learned about that fatal attack. My husband and I had begun breakfast, turned on New York City’s classical music station and heard that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers. At first, we thought it an accident much like the one that had happened at the Empire State Building many years before—then a frantic call came from a friend telling us to turn on the television. We watched as fellow workers held hands and jumped from the top floors—I later learned that one was a cousin—newly married—who had just begun working for the firm who occupied one of the peak offices.
     Since 2001, many of our best writers have explored that day. Think of Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin, Art Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and 102 Minutes by Kevin Flynn and Jim Dyer. Portraits of Grief written by reporters for The New York Times was miniature 200-words pieces that showed an aspect of each lost individual’s life. Some family members thought more traditional obituaries should have been written but most felt it helped in the healing process.
     Three thousand people lost their lives during and after that suicide mission. Families and friends and responders made bereft with the loss of those they loved and cherished. Ideals were shaken but those who believe in a better world will continue to believe in democracy and a better way of life.
     At the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia no guided tours are offered. Every   visitor is free to wander the grounds, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day to personally meditate and reflect on a day that will never be forgotten.
     The Flight 93 National Memorial now includes a learning center and a wall of remembrance.
“Timeless in simplicity and beauty, like its landscape both solemn and uplifting, the Memorial should be quiet in reverence, yet powerful in form, a place both solemn and uplifting.” Paul Murdoch, Architect
       Next spring the National September 11 Memorial and Museum will be open in New York and include two 80’steel columns that will act as markers to a staircase that lead to the mezzanine where visitors will see the undersides of the memorial pool which indicates the site of the twin towers. The lives of people lost on September 11 will be highlighted in the memorial area. In years to come when no one is left who bore witness to that day—descendents, fellow citizens, travelers, historians and writers will visit the museum and see, hear and continue telling the story.  


J Wachowski said...

There's a phrase that's popular with the teenagers I know.
"So that happened."
They use it to describe something that changes everything, from "I spilled smoothie all over myself in the lunchroom," to "Her father has brain cancer."
"So that happened."
I sometimes wonder if that particular phrase resonates with them because they learned early, dramatically, a moment really can change everything.

Elise Warner said...

J: I had never heard that phrase before--it really sums life up.

Toni Anderson said...

Beautiful post, Elise. I am sorry for your loss.

Jules, interesting point. That phrase always feels like a full stop moment. A pause. A reflection. It can be funny too which is good. The world needs funny. I suspect that the Sept 11 attacks must be like moments of war for others and we are fortunate to (for the most part) to live in peace.

All these years later I have to wonder--was it worth it? To all those who planned the attack? Is all the death and destruction that followed in its wake as satisfying as they thought it would be?

I know I'll never forget watching the events of that day, clutching my 6 month old baby and wondering what sort of world I'd brought her into. It must be a question that many have asked through the ages.

May they rest in peace.

Marcelle Dubé said...

That day started in horror for me as I watched the attack on the WTC before going to work, and proceeded to terror as a supposedly hijacked airliner headed for Anchorage detoured to our small northern town because American air space had been closed. It turned out that the Korean pilots had accidentally hit a button that warned air traffic controllers that their flight had been hijacked. Our downtown was evacuated and I, along with every other parent in the city, rushed to the school to take my children out of the flight path.

Everything was fine, in the end. But I will never forget the visceral fear I felt for my children. And then I think of all those people who died, and the families they left behind, and my fears pale.

My condolences, Elise.

Elise Warner said...

Toni, Marcelle:

Thank you.

Rita said...

Hugs and thank you for this post.

jeanharrington said...

Elise, You've posted a beautiful memorial to a day none of us will ever forget. How could we?

Clare London said...

A beautiful post, Elise, sobering and respectful and compassionate. The shocking moment reverberated throughout the world - I can remember being completely stunned, watching and listening to the news, realising that it was actually happening.

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