People who were near the World Trade Center or Pentagon offered some moving memories.
There were the people who should have been in harm’s way but weren’t … these are people who will always remember how close they came to being one of the casualties, but for one small decision they’d made.
Some folks will be forever haunted not by the fact that it could have been them—but rather that it wasn’t.
So many people who are adults today were mere children then, and remember the confusion as their young minds tried to understand what was happening. The way the adults in any given room responded definitely seems to be burned into their memories.
Then there’s the people who saw the events of 9/11 and went to work.
Many of those too young to either remember or to have even existed did participate in today’s remembrances, and not always in a compassionate way.
But not all of them.
Finally, this memory, more than any of them, remains unshakeable.
Through the course of curating tweets for this diary, I came across a short documentary about the impromptu and little-known 9/11 boat evacuation, which led to hundreds of local boats hauling nearly 500,000 people off the island of Manhattan after just a single Coast Guard call for help. Narrated mostly by the unlikely heroes—with Tom Hanks filling in the gaps—this short documentary is a stark reminder of the greatness that lies within all of us, and the power possible when we unite for—and with—each other. It’s worth your time.
And when you’re ready to continue the stroll down memory lane, this thread is here for you.
As for me? My #WhereWereYou story is not a great one.
I still lived in Ohio, and I’d gotten drunk the night before with my roommate, celebrating a brand-new job that, at 22, I was sure I’d have forever. My roommate, who had little interest in current events, slammed into my room at about 1:30p.m. Eastern, annoyed she couldn’t watch her soap opera because “we were being bombed or something.”
We clutched each other as we watched a near-constant loop of planes hitting buildings, buildings collapsing, fire in a field, fire at the Pentagon. Unable to process it, and without a computer in the house to help us, we called our fathers. There was little uncertainty by that late hour, so they each told us what had happened. When we cried, they independently created the same distraction—by teasing us for sleeping in so late.
By the end of the day, we’d held candles in Dixie cups at sidewalk vigils, where we sang and held hands with strangers. At my local grocer that evening, I silently removed strings of saliva out of my hair after a racist—who, like too many Americans, had let fear and hatred override all decency—hurled both racial slurs and spit at me.
By the end of the week, I’d been downsized in the post-9/11 panic that hit the auto industry, unwittingly setting me on the path that ultimately led me here.
Where were you?