9/11 — Twenty-One Years Ago

“We will never forget” means something.  There are things in our collective history that we will remember until our dying breath.  For me, 9/11 is the most dominant of those things that I will never forget.  I remember exactly where I was standing when my co-worker Rose hollered from about 10 feet away and said, “Hey Jill … they say a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center!”  I remember the vivid images we would all see throughout that day and the next and the next.  It would be years before the tears would stop, and even today they sometimes come unbidden when I see an image or read something about that day.  It is shocking to think that the children born on that day are now full-grown adults with jobs, college degrees, and perhaps families of their own.  To me, it still seems like just a little bit ago.

I have written almost every year about that day and the circumstances surrounding it, have written about my own feelings, about what we as a nation should have taken away from what happened.  I think the memories are fading for many, being replaced by the more immediate social and political divides that dominate our news feeds, our lives.  I didn’t want to repeat the words I’ve said nearly every year, but neither could I simply ignore this, the 21st anniversary of the attacks on the United States by terrorists that changed the face of the nation.  Fortuitously, my inbox yesterday included a tribute by Dan Rather that I found moving and reflective of my own thoughts on this day.


21 years later

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

10 September 2022


21 years.

We tend to mark major anniversaries. But why should this year be less important?

It isn’t.

                   And yet I wonder: Is this still a day that stops us in our tracks?

We will never forget where we were when we heard, when we saw, when we cried.

But so much has passed between then and now.

9/11 changed our nation forever.

        But so too have events that followed.

               History marches in only one direction — forward — in lockstep with our lives.

Still, I am drawn back. I know that it will be so for as long as I am here.

That bright, sunny morning — a postcard of a New York day that turned hopelessly dark.

I smell the smoke.

      I hear the screams.

            I see the faces of the perpetually missing in walls of photographs.

                  I touch the void.

I think of the mistakes that preceded 9/11.

                                                                     And the mistakes that followed.

I think of our national goodwill

        and how it was squandered.

               I wonder at a unity

                     that has dissipated to acrimony.

I mourn for those who died that day.

      And those who perished in the wars that followed.

            One of which was a misguided war of choice. The folly of Iraq still haunts us.

What if?

      What if?

            What if?

                  The questions accumulate. We ask despite knowing there are no answers.

Fate can be cruel. And on that day the cruelty left us all altered.

I think especially of those who lost friends and loved ones.

      The personal emptiness they have had to face is greater than our collective grief.

            Let us never forget that.

For the rest of us, we lost a sense of invulnerability.

      How could our mighty nation be thus attacked?

Today the vulnerability of terrorism remains.

But it is crowded with a long list of others.

Our country is precarious.

      We feel exposed.

            At risk.

And it is not only for us as individuals.

      Our national freedoms,

            Our constitutional rights,

                  Our public health,

                        and the very mechanisms of democratic governance are under threat.

                             We yearn for stability

                                   knowing it will be ever elusive.

But strength and resilience are possible.

    We saw that then.

          And we can see it now.

For those of us who were lucky enough to emerge from the tragedy, steady we must be.




To carry on the memory of those who perished

                                                             into the challenges ahead.

29 thoughts on “9/11 — Twenty-One Years Ago

  1. Two major events in my life so far. First the Kennedy assassination when I was in high school and then 9-11 when I was at work at a major airport and all the incoming and outgoing flights were shut down for almost a day. It was so frightening and eerie. The world changed twice and these were obvious sudden events. Now the era of trump and his cult of followers doing as much damage like the insurrection, but also in a slow deliberate and insidious way right before our eyes for all to see, but the corrupt and blind.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree! I was 12 years old when Kennedy was assassinated, it was phys-ed time, and I was at bat on the baseball diamond when we were suddenly all called back into the school to be greeted by the news that the President had been shot. By the time I got home that day, John F. Kennedy had been pronounced dead and Lyndon B. Johnson was being sworn in on AF-1. I think that the Vietnam War as a whole was equally tragic, but it wasn’t a body-slam single moment or single day, but rather a culmination of years.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree about Vietnam. The irony there is some convoluted good came out of it…some social justice and anti war awareness and change and some great music, but sadly that seems to have waned as well.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, you are so right on all counts. We, especially those of us who were ‘the younger generation’ at the time, became aware. became social justice warriors. But today, as you say, much of that is gone and we are greedy, power-lusting people. Not you nor I, but far too many. Sigh. As the Peter, Paul & Mary song goes, “When will they ever learn?”

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: 9/11 — TWENTY-ONE YEARS AGO. |jilldennison.com | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  3. I still remember that day quite vividly. Instead of going to class, I stayed glue to the tv watching the news unfold from morning to night. What an awful day and hard to believe it’s already 21 years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was the single worst day of my life, and I still remember the details so vividly, even though I can’t remember what I got up and went into the kitchen for just a minute ago! Like you, I find it hard to believe it has been 21 years already … where has time gone? I thought, at first, that we would become a better nation in the aftermath, that we would come together in light of the threat from outside. But alas, it only drove us further apart.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. like most, a day I will never forget. I remember picking up one of my sons from high school, and just crying in the car. To me, it felt like the America I knew changed that day. Wonderful words from both you and Dan…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jill, thanks for sharing this. The company I used to work for lost about 200 people that day. It was a sad day for all. People just going to work to earn a living died needlessly. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • How very sad! I lost a cousin, though it would be days before I learned that he was in a business meeting in Windows on the World in the North Tower. Everyone in the nation, I think, lost someone or something … maybe just the feeling of security we once had. It was, I think, the saddest day of my life.


  6. Pingback: 9/11 — Twenty-One Years Ago | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

  7. Adding to the above by RAWGOD. I often wonder at the number of ordinary civilians who joined the ranks of Al Quaeda or Isis because of the mistakes or the ‘deliberates’ made by the American Government or their military in so many conflicts abroad. Even in these last few years Trump ended or tried to end the agreement with Iran that kept them out of the ‘atomic weapon race, against the advice and wishes of your greatest allies. Was that so he had the excuse to go to war with them again once they had enough Uranium to bomb Israel? Playing Politics with another nation rarely works if you don’t understand their mindset, and for sure Trump does not understand the Arab mind. Consider how a Journalist working for an American Newspaper was dismembered and Trump carried on business as usual with the man who brought it about, signing off on huge weapons deal with him, not caring whom those weapons would be used against. Does your Nation as a whole thrive on warfare, No, though it does thrive on the profit to be made from it given that you supply so many of the weapons. So the manufacturers of those weapons are big enough to dictate policy.. You area trading nation but that trade is so often Death in another Nation. Though maybe that trade is Death to America now with another civil war and the few who profit from that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t imagine the number of U.S. citizens who paired up with al Qaeda or daesh (Isis/Isil) was large, for the general sentiment in the days/months following the attack was strongly anti-Islam … to the point that the local mosque here, about 1.5 miles from my home, required 24-hour police protection for a year after 9/11. But, I do believe that groups like Proud Boys and other domestic terrorist groups formed as a partial response to 9/11. The only reason most of us could figure for Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Iran Nuclear Agreement was that our involvement was initiated by President Obama, and Trump was hellbent and determined to undo any and everything Obama had done. Hence he pulled us out of the TPP, out of the Paris Climate Accords, and tried to pull us out of NATO. No, Trump didn’t understand the mindset of the Middle East … Trump actually understood very little, including the Constitution he took an oath to uphold! And … I don’t know to what extent he bears blame for what happened to Jamal Khashoggi, but I DO blame him for defending MbS in the aftermath, even though all signs pointed to MbS having ordered the brutal killing. Still … as I told rg … Trump wasn’t the cause, but the accelerant. He threw gasoline on a smoldering fire and turned it into a raging inferno. The question now becomes … where do we go from here? And from where I sit, there are no good answers until the people of this nation wake the hell up, take their damned blinders off, and stop the violence, stop the hatred, stop the bigotry, the racism, and the attempts at religious domination. Sigh. 😔

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Yup, America changed that day. Maybe, the whole world changed. But politics per se did not change, at least not permanently. If anything, Coservatives and Republicans moved more to the right. Why? Because they could! They talked about law and order, but they themselves stopped following laws, and normal conventions. Instead of playing up the unity felt after 9/11, they used it to make bigger divisions. Slowly at first, so no one paid attention. But the wider the divide became, the wider they believed they could make it. And along came Trump, who went from being a Democrat to becoming a right-wing Republican. And he built on the divide. Nowadays, Trump backs the dictators of the world, and his followers go with him. They have forgotten how they felt on 9/12 and 9/13. Instead of calling for unity, they are calling for domestic terrorism. They want people to fear them more than they feared the international terrorists on 9/11. And they call themselves the good guys…
    Good guys do not call for tyranny, or become traitors!

    Liked by 3 people

    • It was an event of such magnitude that it would have had to change the nation. Thing is, though … I expected it to bring about positive changes, to unify the people of this country. And it did for about 3 weeks. People were out helping strangers, offering their homes to the displaced, volunteering at schools, foodbanks and wherever they were needed. But then … came the flip side … the blame, the vitriol, the hatred. And it escalated, it grew, until we are where we are today. Trump wasn’t the cause … he was but a symbol, a catalyst. He ‘won’ by telling people we should hate all Muslims for what a group of 19 men did on 9/11. He fanned the smoldering fires into full-fledged infernos and stood back to watch the results of his efforts. And here we are today … a nation so divided, so ruptured, that there is little hope for unity in the foreseeable future. Today, the biggest threat to this nation is not from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan or Iraq, but from within the U.S. itself. The terrorists wanted to destroy ‘America’ … and perhaps they did.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think 9/11 was the cause of the division, it is older than that. But certainly a certain party took advantage of the situation, againbefore Trump. Having said that, Trump used the divide to cause the rupture. But he told the people it was spelled r-a-p-t-u-r-e.

        Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.