It's hard to know how to talk about an event like September 11, 2001 in a forum like this. It's hard to do it justice or make clear that it's not something I'm doing for clicks, and frankly, it's hard for it to feel real for me. It's just something I feel compelled to write about today, so that's what I am doing. Everyone knows where they were that day. I was out of the country, having just begun my junior year of college studying abroad, in Seville, Spain. I had arrived exactly one week earlier, on Tuesday, September 4, having flown out of New York City. My parents and my boyfriend walked me to my gate to say goodbye, because you could still do that.
I've never felt more removed or isolated than I did when I watched all this unfold in Spanish while eating lunch on the couch of my homestay, wondering if I'd ever make it home and if I was in danger and what on earth I should do next. (What I did was park myself at an Irish Pub with my new American friends from my program, and watch the BBC's coverage for 9 hours.) It was truly a surreal thing to be out of the country for—both during, and for the whole year that followed. I felt then, and still feel, that everything I read about what happened that day is a way to decipher what it was really like to experience this event in America. I still seek out articles and information where I can, because I feel oddly disconnected from it, yet of course, can never be disconnected from it. I've never felt more American than I did being out of the country during one of the worst events in our country's history. Everyone has their story, and that's a little of mine.
As we approach the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, I'm thinking about all these things and wanted to share a few articles and bits I've come across that have stuck out to me and/or stuck with me.
First, the sky. The sky that day is something I'll never forget. Even on TV thousands of miles away, it stuck out to me. It was so blue. I know that blue. I'm from the northeast. I know that early fall, late summer, crisp air sky. I will never forget the blue of the sky that day. I'm not alone. It's even captured at the National September 11 Memorial Museum.
This article about the Falling Man photo. It's tough but important. I encourage you to watch the video. Per the photographer, Richard Drew, "It was the only picture that was like that, of anybody falling from the building. It was the only picture that showed any kind of human interaction like that. ...I've never regretted taking that photograph at all. It's probably one of the only photographs that actually shows someone dying that day. We have a terrorist attack on our own soil and we still don't see pictures of our people dying. And this is a photograph of someone dying."
This 12-minute piece from the tenth anniversary, narrated by Tom Hanks, about some of the helpers that day. Always look for the helpers.