The 18th Anniversary of 911


On September 11, 2019, we remember the 18th anniversary of the day when nearly 3,000 victims were killed after two airliners were crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, another plane hit the Pentagon and a final plane crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania.  This devastating number of causalities included fire fighters, police officers from NYC, the Port Authority, private emergency medical technicians, first responders, captains in many boats rushing in to help, volunteers, and many paramedics. And don't forget the dogs who worked along side these amazing people. They were amazing, too.

According to the New York Times of August 9, 2011 “At least 10,000 firefighters, police officers and civilians exposed to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center have been found to have post-traumatic stress disorder and in a kind of mass grieving, many of them have yet to recover, according to figures compiled by New York City’s three 9/11 health programs.”  These terrible traumas leave so many people involved ill in body, mind and soul.  These agonies need consoling, embraces, love.  We need to acknowledge it whenever we can; it's so important.

In 2001 the barrage of bruising images from that fateful day imprinted, pained and wounded our collective psyches.  The killing of innocent and unarmed people touched our nation’s heart with universal feelings of sadness and, as a country, we are forever changed. We also didn’t know where to turn with fracturing losses of this magnitude. The September 11th attack made us feel insecure and angry, too. It was a monumental call to be courageous despite our grief and our fear.  Once again we learned that America can be brave and feel sad at the same time.  Once again we realized how proud we can feel living in this great nation.  Once again we appreciated how feelings of fear and bravery are not mutually exclusive.

Grief Changes Over Time

Now, 18 years later, we may be astonished at how much time has passed.  The loss of time perspective during mourning coincides with the grief experience in general; our souls don’t mark time linearly. Let me explain a little about a mourning period.

In the immediate aftermath of a person’s death, it can be hard to breathe and everything hurts; we are in shock.  As time goes on, the initial shock and emptiness shifts to what some refer to as the new normal and with it other emotions such as anger and sadness, longing and depression emerge.  These emotions go up and down as we attempt to cope and heal. 

September 11th touched so many of us on an enormous scale not only because of the initial horror of it but because of the intensity of the ongoing reporting of it and continuous replaying of the images. This 15th anniversary will likely bring about a similar flood of reporting of that day and the days which followed the attacks.  It can bring about more suffering to those personally involved especially the children who lost a mother or father. They are older now but that loss is there, always there whether spoken about or not.

So let us do our part.  Let us reach out with love and compassion and remembrance to those left behind; because their scars are deep; their pain is personal; and their pain is forever. 

Never forget 911.  But remember 911 with prayers and thoughts and compassion for those left behind.  When we lose people we love, the pain is harsher when no one remembers so let us be the ones who do.