Revisiting 9/11, Seven Years Later

New Yorkers remember the victims of 9/11.

hide captionNew Yorkers remember the victims of 9/11.

Photo by Spencer Platt-Pool/Getty Images

Today is the 7th anniversary of the attacks on 9/11. For some, this day is a time to remember lost loved ones. For others, it's become a day rife with superstition, mostly for people flying in and out of big cities with high profile landmarks.* Yet still for others, it's a day they would like to file away and never think about again. And I wouldn't be surprised if there was an indifferent contingent out there that thinks, "Enough already! I can't hear anymore about 9/11!" But it's an anniversary that is almost inescapable — you can't turn on the news without hearing mention, and there are stories on the front page of every newspaper. 9/11 looks different depending on who, and where you are... and on who, and where you were.

So tell us, what does this day mean to you?

* Ahem, that would be me, tonight, at 5 pm. Fingers crossed.

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I set my alarm to wake up to NPR. Living in California, my alarm went off after 6:00 a.m. PST. I recall the host at the time saying that a second plane just hit the World Trade Center. Usually I am half asleep and miss most of the on-air discussion, but that announcement really got my attention. I listed in bed for awhile then got out of bed to turn on the television.

Sent by Lori Johnson | 2:31 PM | 9-11-2008

My sister, mother and I were at the Glasgow Scotland airport returning our rental car in preparation for our return flight to NYC on 12 Sept. While in the shuttle bus a fellow passenger recognized our accents and told us about the World Trade Center towers collapsing. We were native New Yorkers and had friends and family that either had worked there or were still working there. Many tears and worries but at the bar at our hotel that night all of the Americans were welcomed, comforted and supported in our grief. In fact, there were many nationalities present and we were all in shock. We didn't get home for another four days but we were in a very supportive place and we continue to be very grateful to those who were with us then.

Sent by Chris | 2:50 PM | 9-11-2008

Cindy McCain and John McCain, how scary
Now all the New Yorker needs to do is put a picture of them and the bikini wearing, gun toting Palin!

Sent by Dawn | 2:58 PM | 9-11-2008

I was at work in South Bend, IN. I walked into the purchaser's office and she told me a plane had just hit a building in NY. Awhile later, I was in there again, and this time I was told about the second plane. I took my lunchtime early, and dug out an old B&W TV that was there. I began to watch the coverage, and not long after I started watching, the first Tower fell. All around me, everyone kept working, occasionally looking at the screen. I remember thinking," Why is everyone going on about their work like nothing has happened?" The world has just STOPPED and yet, the world of business continued! It wasn't until later that I watched at home and I was able to cry. I felt like I was the only one at the time. I know better than that, but that's how I felt right then.

Sent by Amy McDonald | 3:20 PM | 9-11-2008

I was in my frist week of Marine Corps Boot Camp. As is the custom in that branch of boot camp, I saw no television and heard no radio. At age 18 I was left to grow up very fast by assessing the scope of my decisions. I had to rely on my imagination to understand what happened that day. I did not see video of that day and the patriotism thereafter until December that year.

Sent by Anthony Ferrante | 3:26 PM | 9-11-2008

9/11
Why? How?
These two questions seems not to have found their unconditional answers to me.
Why so much mysteries with all CCTV footage's around the pentagon not shown, why and how building 7 was pull down. Since 9/11 we have seen so much change in our notorious freedom, we went to war against two countries and 100000 of lifes have been lost in the name of a ghost. Why cannot we clear up all the secret and prove openly to the world that indeed we are fighting a true cause call the US of A imperial survival. At least it would be true.

Sent by erick gardon | 3:31 PM | 9-11-2008

9/11 is a scab the nation refuses to stop picking at. Horrible as it was, it it dwarfed by the horrors other people in other parts of the world suffer daily. For god's sake lets get some perspective and lets go on with our lives!

Sent by sam | 3:49 PM | 9-11-2008

While it may seem heartless to be this way - I see 9/11 the day America was destroyed. Ever since then then American people have given up their freedoms to a fear-mongering government.

The greatest legacy and honor we could have given those who lost their lives would be to say "We will not let the terrorists win by changing our very existence and letting them control us". Unfortunately - we did let them win - Bin Laden is still out there, and Saudi Arabia has never been held accountable for the attack on us by their citizens.

It's a black day in our history - and we continue to let it be black. When we stop living our lives looking over our shoulders - Terrorism will lose.

Sent by Sherry | 3:50 PM | 9-11-2008

What about thinking about all of the innocent civilians that are killed by the missles from American planes and drones. How can people be so one-sided in their grief? Is it that patriotism blinds us to our humanity?

Sent by Richard | 3:52 PM | 9-11-2008

We keep going over the same information and most americans beleive that the attacks came out of nowhere and were totally unprovoked.
Let's do some self examination before we demonize others.

Sent by John Heter | 3:52 PM | 9-11-2008

I do not want to negate the horrors of 9/11. It was an event that we can never forget, but it seems that we have become preoccupied with 9/11 and staying safe. The republiucans use this memoral day to scare and threat that only they can keep us safe. Let's move on. Instead of war and preoccupation with Osma Bin Lauden and al quaeda let's move on to the problems we have facing us here at home. Let's put our resources into energy and education and once again being a respected leader in the world. We are falling behind and wallowing in problems that are not important.

Sent by kay Young | 3:54 PM | 9-11-2008

My son and I were in the Olympic National Park and I will never forget that our borders were closed and learning the news from chalk board postings. What a shame that our memories have been soiled by the Bush administrations manipulation of our tragedy

Sent by virginia broderick | 3:56 PM | 9-11-2008

My thoughts of 9/11 go beyond our borders. As I recall, people of near 80 countries died in the twin towers. As we move on, memories and news is getting distorted that all victims as only Americans. Good hearing your program and others. I also seek out memorials happening around the world.

Sent by Zack Zdinak | 3:57 PM | 9-11-2008

This day I've been exchanging emails with friends and colleagues who I was with in Midtown Manhattan. Our comments revolve around two themes--the horror of the day and how fortunate we were to have each other as friends. It is that second point that has slowly gained prominence since that day.

Sent by Benjamin Allen | 3:58 PM | 9-11-2008

WE SHOULD NEVER FORGET THIS DAY IS A DAY TO HONOR THOSE THAT DIED AND TO REMEMBER HOW FORTUNATE WE ARE THAT WAR DOES NOT OFTEN COME TO OUR SOIL. THOSE THAT DO NOT WANT TO HEAR OR REMEMBER JUST BURY THEIR HEADS IN THE SAND. FOR HEAVENS SAKE "AMERICAN UP" AND STAND PROUD TODAY BUT BOW YOUR HEADS AND REMEMBER!!!

Sent by KATHY SMITH, MESA, AZ | 4:00 PM | 9-11-2008

I was working out; I saw the 2nd plane fly in on CNN, and knew immediately what had happened - the chickens, whose ever they were, had come home. Someone had finally, inevitably perhaps, responded to Imperialistic American Foreign Policy, after decades - just as Britain and France and other powers had elicited eventual retribution for their colonial transgressions.

So what have we learned?

I fear, nothing. We still continue the same misbegotten, imperialistic foreign policy, bullying, coercing, propping up dictatorial puppets, taking covert action that kills hundreds, if not thousands of innocents.

Our occupation of Iraq, our continuing ineptitude in Afghanistan, our continued 'collateral damage,' in Pakistan and elsewhere... inevitably, will come back to haunt us again, sometime down the road, date unknown.

That we have not learned from the past, is the real tragedy.

Sent by Peter Edgerton | 4:04 PM | 9-11-2008

My wife, my in-laws and I were driving back to Aurora OH after a weekend in southern Ohio - no TV, no radio. We stopped for a late breakfast in a small town and were amazed at the deserted streets. Hand-written signs in shop doors said "Gone to watch history" and "Closed due to emergency". We finally found an bar that was open, with every chair taken and standing room only. Men and women staring mesmerized at multiple TVs - and the awful video of the most tear-wrenching crime in America of our time. One of my sons died of leukemia - the other is serving in Afghanistan. I pray for his survival, for the success of our armed forces and their mission. I pray for a cure for cancer and for death to the cancer of Islamic terrorism.

Sent by Peter Holman | 4:06 PM | 9-11-2008

If I were telling children about 9/11 I would not start on that day. To do so gives into an ahistorical view of our country. The story begins with the Cold War, when we armed freedom fighters in Afghanistan with hopes they would defeat the Soviets in their country. We did not sufficiently consider the consequences.

The US made foreign policy decisions that upset people in the Middle East. still, the US saw itself as invulnerable and President George W. Bush was more concerned with a possible future threat to the US or its allies by Iraq than those folks back in Afghanistan. Those folks who had been organized by the CIA now saw us as the enemy and attacked us.

Sent by Josie Tolton | 4:10 PM | 9-11-2008

To the "art teacher" who just called in & told us how she is "teaching 9/11" to her 5-year-olds by having them make cards for firemen: This is a perfect example of the NON-EXISTENT training of "teachers". The very first thing that went out to us (psychologists & teachers) in 2001 was literature on how to respond to the fears & trauma of kids during & after the catastrophe. You do NOT start telling today's 5-year-olds about the horrors of 9/11. You DO, however, make your "we-love-firefighters" cards to honor them & explain their work, include fire safety & relevant content according to age. Another irresponsible "adult" improvising & damaging young psyches !!!!!!

Sent by sheridan mayer | 4:10 PM | 9-11-2008

For many Americans 9/11 is remembered as a day of national unity. For some minority populations it is a day of double tragedy. As Americans they suffered the same sense of shock, fear and vulnerability as news and images were broadcast about the events at the Pentagon and the Twin Towers. As ethnic Americans whose skin tone, facial features or ethnic dress seemed to resemble pictures of the enemy on TV, they were subjected to predjudice in its most brutal, hateful and violent form. Hundreds of cases of police brutality, false arrest, FBI investigations, discrimination and attacks by fellow citizens were reported. Balbir Singh Sodhi, an American citizen in Arizona, who wore the turban typical of Sikhs, was gunned down in front of his gas station on September 15 by a man shouting his patriotism. Even if he had been of the nationality or religion associated with the 9/11 crimes, which he wasn't, it would have been a violation of the American promise of freedom. Along with all Americans, Sikh Americans felt our vulnerability to outside invaders and also felt the threat of their own neighbors. The ugly face of racial and religious hatred continues to surface. The Sodhi family has been courageous and resilient and has responded to their tragedy with kindness, compassion and understanding. It is a story from 9/11 that doesn't get told enough.

Sent by Nirvair Kaur Khalsa | 4:10 PM | 9-11-2008

This is my birthday. And I've got to say that I don't turn on the radio anymore on 9/11 to listen to the endless rehashing and politicizing because I'm reminded everyday. All the time. Think of all the times you have to tell someone your date of birth, or have your ID checked. Its the same conversation everytime, where they were, or who they knew that died.
9/11 is extreemely important, it made Americans realize just how small the world is, how small we are. It is also such a sad day for so very very many. We have to remember. To honor those who died and the dreams that died on that day.
I'm conflicted on the whole 9/11 issue though. Because the small part of me, deep inside, kinda wants the joy of the day back. Just a little.

Sent by Trace Kerr | 4:12 PM | 9-11-2008

Today I was teaching _Dracula_ to my college literature students. One mentioned that all the different points of view in this epistolary novel slowed down the narrative and made it confusing. I likened it to many people's initial experiences of 9/11--incomplete, inaccurate information delivered by media, colleagues, students, and family who all had a partial view of the situation. Seven years ago I never would have thought that I would use that horrific day as a teaching tool in a literature class. Then again, life and art are always connected.

Sent by S. V. Buffamanti | 4:12 PM | 9-11-2008

I feel that the date is important to remember about vulnerability. However, the aftermath of the events, in my opinion, are worse. The bandwagon patriots, that crusaded about and then disappeared as soon as 9/11 lost popular voice. A government that seized the opportunity to take away American freedoms, via the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act, under the guise of protection. An American populace that sat back and let the acts go through. The Crusade against Terror, that opens an open ended war that again bypasses stipulations that are in the constitution, and only seems to apply to terror that effects America economically. The attack and execution of a countries leader that had nothing to do with the attacks that happened, and just seem to be a personal grudge. These and other things make 9/11 a horrible tragedy and in more than just body count.

Sent by kc | 4:23 PM | 9-11-2008

WE lost a loved on 9/11. I think a small portion of my daughter's highschool speech encapsulates perhaps what and why we like to remember.She is a lovely insightful writer and i share it with you:"I wanted to tell you how I will never forget September 11th. This year, new students were registering. But where were you 6 years one week and two days ago? Remember how nice everyone was to each other for the few weeks after the towers fell? Remember how bonded we felt as a country? How we were Americans, and our differences didn't really matter? For me there is no one that should be blamed- the whole thing is beyond blame. The memories of the people who lost their lives in that tragedy are too precious to be tarnished with the guilt and blood of war or hate. If Uncle Jim could come back for a visit, I don't think the war or the stigma attached to Islamic nations is what he would want remembered. I think he would want everyone to think of the silent horns on the streets of New York that week, the flags hanging in people's windows and along highway overpasses, and the hugs shared by friends and neighbors.
Tragedy brings people together in a strange way. Not everything about a tragedy is negative. It teaches you something. We have to use our tragedies and our past to grow. You cannot let adversities trap you and hold you down. You cannot ignore something when it affects you so deeply. I will never be the same girl I was before 9-11 but that is not a bad thing. I grew and I learned from it. I will always have an anxiety disorder, but that will not burden me unless I choose to let it. Every challenge in life is just that- a challenge. An opportunity to overcome one more thing and gain a little perspective. People are given challenges and gain perspective at all points in their lives. Some people in this room have already had their share, some will find that these 4 years hold many challenges for them and some people will not experience them until later in life.
Uncle Jim may be gone but Lauren and Susan aren't. He lives on in them. He lives in my parents' memories. He lives in my experiences and I am stronger for it."

Sent by douglas | 4:31 PM | 9-11-2008

My 27 year old son called me early that morning to tell me what had just happened. One week before he had moved from New York City to Washington DC. I had thought it was a bad move at the time, since he was an aspiring actor. But he paid the rent by working as a temp. His main temp job had been on one of the top floors at the World Trade Center for the last few months he was there. In retrospect his timing was miracluious.

Sent by June Thelin | 4:58 PM | 9-11-2008

On 9/11 I was gravely ill at home alone and told a week or so before to get my affairs in order. That particular morning I was very sick and flat on my back in bed when the news broke soon after I turned on the TV. I saw the horrible image of the first plane crashing into the WTC. Even before I knew it was a terrorist attack I was in shock and started crying. I called a friend and she thought I was hallucinating until she turned on her TV and soon she was also crying. The images on that day are still ingrained in my mind but are usually buried until the anniversary. As a nation I think we have collectively suffered PTSD. Several treatments are proven effective for PTSD:

Exposure therapy- as you think about and re-experience these memories in a safe, controlled environment, they will start to feel less intense and overwhelming and Cognitive restructuring -- in cognitive restructuring, the focus of treatment is to identity upsetting thoughts about the traumatic event--particularly thoughts that are distorted and irrational--and replace them with more accurate, balanced views. Perhaps, it is a good thing to review the events of the day on the anniversary but as the years go it would probably be good to talk more about the progress we've made to reduce the threat of a terrorist attack.

Considering the suggested treatments for PTSD, I guess it is a good thing to remember the events of that day as long as the memories don't interfere with your daily living activities and seem more tolerable as every year passes. Undoubtedly, everyone will feel safer when Bin Laden is captured and Al-Qaeda disbanded, however the current administration has not been able to make any progress toward that end over the past eight years. Sadly, their failed policies have caused us to lose more innocent lives.

As for me, I thank God everyday that I survived my own dire diagnosis, my life is significantly altered but I'm still here and that's what matters. As individuals, I think the best tribute we can give to those who died on 9/11 is to realize that life indeed is a gift and to live it fully and honorably as active and informed American citizens in memory of all those who died on that terrible day. This year I plan to vote for the candidate who has the best plan for preventing the loss of more innocent lives through unnecessary wars and acts of aggressions, someone who will have their thumb on the pulse of the world so we can prevent such tragedies from happening again, someone who puts diplomacy before war, homeland security before offensive action. Yes, all life is a precious gift, not just American lives but the lives of all people in countries around this wonderful planet we call home.

Sent by Ali Harrod | 6:17 PM | 9-11-2008

Whether or not we talk too little or too much about 9/1 is not so important as what we have or have not learned. The fact that my teenage neice and nephew can look at me with complete confusion and dismay when I state my opposition to the Iraq Invasion and say "but what about 9/11" is appalling to me. They truly believe that Iraq was behind the 9/11 tragedy. They will probably live out their lives believing this to be the case and to distrust all middle eastern people. The distorted facts about 9/11 and our seemingly unrelenting need to seek revenge saddens me almost as much as the event.

Sent by carol kremer | 7:05 PM | 9-11-2008

I was 20 years old, my oldest sister called me to ask me if i was watching the news, I said no i am getting ready for work, i turned on the tv and saw 2 buildings i had never heard of before on fire. Smoke rising from the tops.
Planes hitting buildings, that was something new, I didn't think much of it, I never cared about anything but what happened in my little world.
I was driving down 9000 South, just where the dip is, after the divider island, by the golf course driving range, Bill from my local radio morning show, Radio From Hell,Bill says, a plane has just hit the Pentagon....... My mind kind of went blank, my little world was shattered that day. I don't think I ever had anything impact my life so significantly before that.
The entire world was brought to my feet, I had no idea what to do with it. I got to my rececption job, just to ignore the phones. The few office workers at the Utah Fun Dome, all of us back in one tiny office, watching the news.
Hearing a name I had never heard of before, Osama Bin Laden....
I have never been so scared in my entire life, being made to grow up a little faster.
That night I was taking some flyers around for church with my mom. I remember asking her, what if we go to war? I don't remember the Gulf War really, but this is different, this is here at home, not somewhere else in the world that I never see.
I was so scared for the next few days.
It is a little weird I don't think of the details too often of how I changed that day. Very emotional.

Sent by Charlene Wallace | 12:46 PM | 9-12-2008

This is decidedly a minority opinion, but I've always felt that 9/11 didn't "transform" America as much as it unleashed a toxic brew -- political, cultural, psychological -- that had been simmering in this country for years. The emergence of an "enemy" aligned each camp like iron filings to their respective magnets.

Sent by George | 3:57 PM | 9-12-2008

As I work late, I don't start stirring until about noon that day, and went to meet my best friend for lunch about 1 PM. As I sat down across from my waiting friend, he called my attention to the TV playing in the corner of the restaurant. I immediately recognized the scene as NY, but felt strangely disoriented as I looked over the skyline with that prominent plume of smoke and recognized something was different--then my friend told me. It was stunning, sickening, and needless to say, we both ate our meals mechanically--appetites as absent as those twin towers. It was a horrible moment for this country, one that shook us to our core, changing America forever. Unfortunately, our leaders decided to use our collective feelings of anxiety and the solidarity we had with one another to push us in a direction absolutely contrary to this country's long tradition of democracy, of individual freedom, of principle. This savage attack on our country was used by our leaders to savage our laws and even our Constitution to engender an accretion of power to the Executive Branch beyond anything we had seen before--turning our presidency into a virtual monarchy while dispensing with the Rule of Law that buoys our system of Justice. An unjust and illegal war was instigated based on arrogance and lies rather than necessity. People were thrown into prison and tortured without being given the slimmest chance to prove themselves innocent. US citizens were spied upon without cause or warrant. Duly passed legislation was ignored as were court decisions--and it was all done in the name of 9/11. It was all done in the name of the FEAR that 9/11 might reoccur. Yet almost everything that was done afterward by our government actually increased the chance of further attacks rather than decreasing them. America, once looked upon as a beacon of Hope and Liberty, is now looked upon with hatred and fear as a warmongering nation whose ideals are a sham--words carved into marble, but not in the hearts of our citizenry. 9/11 was a horrible, tragic moment in our history, but it is what came after--our response--that I fear history will show as being many times more destructive than the horrors wrought by those four hijacked planes--more destructive both for the world and ourselves. My truest hope is that this next administration helps to lead this country back to an adherence to principle and the Rule of Law--to shore up our foundational beliefs that have been under assault by the Bush wrecking ball. Otherwise, the terrorist attacks will have succeeded far beyond their wildest dreams.

Sent by Thomas W. Muther, Jr. | 4:04 AM | 9-15-2008

Please read the "Salon" article online "A pastor who clashed with Palin" (yesterday 9/15/08). The pastor mentions that VP candidate Palin truly believes that the earth is less than 7,000 years old--and that humans walked with the dinosaurs.
Generally I try to avoid political litmus tests--however I can't get past this if true.
We need an administration beginning in 2009 that believes in science to seriously work on the nation's/earth's ills.(ie energy) I'd sooner wish she believes the moon to be made of green cheese!
I hope one of those unbiased reporters scouring Alaska will investigate this candidate's "scientific"/creationist beliefs.

Sent by Cary Fassler | 3:18 PM | 9-16-2008

Dear Cary. Please consider the unintended consequence of a belief in evolution. Namely the idea of a master race. If evolution is true, then it follows that one group of people is probably superior to another. Do you think Hitler came up with that one on his own. It came out of the Eugenics movement in the 20s of which Margaret Sanger one of the founders of Planned Parenthood. Part of her plan was to eliminate the "Black" and "yellow" races. So you want to talk about dangerous ideas, evolution beats creationism hands down. The Creationist founding fathers came up with this crazy statement "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are CREATED equals and endowed by their CREATOR with certain inalienable rights, namely the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I'll take a crazy creationist every time.

Sent by Clifford | 1:47 PM | 9-17-2008

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