In Life on
September 12, 2017

what 9/11 means to me

I struggle, always, to write about 9/11. It’s not because I knew anyone in the towers (I didn’t) or because I had an experience with someone who did (I haven’t). I was in Disneyworld. I was 7.  While it is a bizarre story, I still have a story in the same way everyone else does; where they were when they learned about the news, and who they were with and what they were doing. My aunt is the only person I know who knew people who died in the attack on the Pentagon. We visited their names at the memorial in New York City. We paid our respects. Then, we left.

Other writers are much better at explaining the complexity, the tragedy, the absolute shock of 9/11 than I am. After all, I was only 7. Everything I know, I learned after. And I have leaned heavily on the words of others to make sense of the world around me. Today is no different. So if you read anything tonight, read these:

Sixteen Years after 9/11, How Does Terrorism End? by Robin Wright – I think this is a great piece of writing about the future of counterterrorism efforts, and what allows terrorists groups to thrive, or to disband, in the first place.

The Falling Man by Tom Junod – This is a piece that will jerk you around, make you uncomfortable, and make you cry. I read it every year, and every year it reveals something else to me. My high school journalism teacher had us read it, and I am grateful every year that I was given something this hard to read. It is hard to read. It should be.

9/20/2001 by Jon Stewart – This video always makes me sad, and also reminds me why I’m so happy to be an American, even now, even in this divided moment in our history. He is a great picture of grieving, grieving publicly, figuring it out on-air, as you go.

“I want to tell you why I grieve, but why I don’t despair.”

David Foster Wallace on 9/11, as seen from the Midwest – This describes 9/11 as seen from the Midwest, and the weird banality of everyday life interrupted by what Wallace calls the “Horror.” The surreality of it all is captured pretty well here, I think. It is a strange feeling to watch something that terrible in real time from thousands of miles away.

I don’t know – to me, reading about something on the day it happened helps me. I have to dig in and go deeper. It’s just how I process things. As my aunt said to me this morning, “remembering is good.” Remembering is good. That’s all I have to say, today. Back to regular programming tomorrow.




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