Today, we remember the people whose lives were changed forever by the events of the day we refer to as 9/11. And those whose lives ended too soon. And we send a wish for peace and healing, of hearts, of minds, of our world.
If you would like to share your memories of where you were on September 11 — no matter how near or far — or your thoughts and feelings about what happened or the legacy, as yet another anniversary comes round, we welcome your stories. Please feel free to comment below.
On September 11, 2001, I was ironing a dress and getting my little girl ready for her first day of grade two.
Such a mundane thing to be doing as lives were changed forever. Such a terribly ordinary chore as lives ended.
My husband came into the bedroom and numbly we watched the television together as the events escalated and the buildings collapsed.
Like so many others, I thought the first plane to hit one of the World Trade Towers was a terrible accident. When the second plane hit I thought a foreign nation was attacking the United States. And when the plane that hit the Pentagon? It had to be war. But by who?
I was thousands of miles away, in another country, on another coast. I felt, if not safe, then buffered by the cities, plains and mountains between Vancouver Island and New York, until they closed Canada’s airspace. The iron steamed, the TV announced second-by-second updates and I wondered if I should keep my daughter home from school. All that day, I talked on the phone to those I loved as if to reassure myself that our cocoon remained unruptured. And it may have been, but it wasn’t untouched. Nothing was untouched after that day.
I went through that day and the day after and the day after that listening clinically to the radio for news. It became an obsession. My friends later confessed they did the same. Around me people wept for the survivors and they wept for the dead. I couldn’t cry and began to wonder what was wrong with me.
Until September 14.
On the eve of that day, I sat in my car at an intersection smoking a cigarette, as I did back then. A heavy rain pounded the windshield as I listened to a security guard on the radio tell the story of hundreds of people leaving one of the towers as though it were an ordinary fire drill — and then the creeping awareness amongst them that not all of them, if any, would make it out.
Maybe it was his voice, or maybe it was like a damn of emotion overflowing at last inside of me. I cried at the sound of sorrow in that sweet man’s voice. I sat there until a car finally honked behind me. Then I turned on my windshield wipers and headlights and drove home through the wet dusk. And there it was with the lamps warm and orange through the windows and the sound of my daughter’s footsteps running to greet me as I hurried to the door.
Just last week I sat beside someone who had watched from his New York apartment window as the buildings fell and smoke surged upwards like massive gray dragons. He told me the story of his September 11 and the weeks and then the months and then the years of not being able to forget.
“Ground Zero Towers of Light” Photographer Unknown
Flowers float in a reflecting pool at Ground Zero, placed there by families of victims during a 9/11 memorial ceremony on September 11, 2009 in New York. (Chang W. Lee/Getty Images)