Meandering Monday about Remembering 9/11

In case you haven’t been paying attention, Saturday was the twentieth anniversary of 9/11.

This was one of those days that sticks with people – maybe more like a week or two, really. I had gone into work in Dallas early, and so was sitting at my desk when I started seeing reports of a plane going into the World Trade Center. And then another. The confusion about what was happening at first, then about how those two towers could come down the way they did. The Pentagon. Not knowing why United 93 went down in Shanksville until much later. Was more going to happen?

Everyone who could went home, aware of how grateful we should be, because some no longer could.

I remember the country being shut down, not the pushed-down from the top kind of fearful Covid shut-down, with people afraid to be around each other. A sad/angry/respectful quiet, understanding that we couldn’t possibly know what other people were going through, and at the same time feeling like we were ALL going through it.

No aircraft was allowed to fly for days. I remember running outside when I heard a helicopter overhead. It wasn’t anything nefarious – a medical care flight – but it was so bizarre to hear something flying after all those days of clear-air silence.

Each year we (meaning the small “we” of my significant one and me) spend a day or two observing the anniversary. We watch some of the various documentaries, maybe some of the ceremonies at the sites.

This being the twentieth anniversary, we had more than two weeks to watch video, and could have watched 24×7 if we chose. We didn’t quite do that, but we definitely spent a substantial amount of time watching. And remembering.

Whenever I see the images of the buildings gaping open with flames and smoke pouring out, I am filled with sorrow and anger. I knew no one who actually was hurt or died on 9/11, no one who was directly impacted, and yet those two emotions were overwhelming. Listening to original and recent interviews, I could not imagine how those people who actually went through it were able to cope with those emotions, as well as the fear, pain, and personal loss that they experienced. How could anyone?

The events of twenty years ago seemed particularly immediate this year, and the feeling was probably intensified further by what we saw in Afghanistan over the last month – a reinforcing reminder of why we were there in the first place.

It was announced that the current occupant of the White House wasn’t going to do a live speech on the anniversary. It was just as well – I didn’t need that intruding on the solemn sanctity of the day.

Many among us have forgotten, moved on like the attacks never happened. Some newly arriving in adulthood weren’t even born when this happened. Some of our young men and women who died or were injured in the Kabul bombing weren’t born yet, but I suspect that they DID remember what happened in 2001.

Whether alive then or not, none of us should ever forget. Just saying…

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Reaching Out

William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction and The Arcanist. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

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