Category Archives: remembering 9/11

Never Forget

Let's Roll Todd Beamer

What difference does September 11th, 2001 make on September 12th, 2012?

wednesday words to remember

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Last Stop

New York subways don’t faze me after living in Chicago. Alone I took the train to catch up with my friends.

911 wtc memorial subway sign

to world trade center all times

They’d gone ahead to shop in SoHo. First time I’d been in New York since 1993. Or was it 1994? Didn’t matter. I was on the train now, rolling toward our rendezvous point. The destination we promised not to miss while in the city.

The digital map counted down the stops. Spring Street. Canal Street.

wtc nyc last stop

last stop

“Is this the new station?” a fellow tourist said as we arrived. “This must be the new station.”

“No,” said a New Yorker in earshot of the traveler. “This is the same station. The one under the buildings.”

So clean and empty now. Images of firemen covered in dust and wading through rubble flashed in my memory.

911 wtc subway station

world trade center subway station

We’re in line,” a text beeped through from my friends. “Meet us at the entrance. We have your ticket.”

The street narrowed as I made my way.

911 memorial crowd walking to entrance

walking to entrance

My friends and I passed through security, stood in line with crowds of people, and finally stepped inside the fences.

In Washington, D.C., the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon is quiet like a graveyard. You can walk through it, touch the monuments, gaze directly into the pools.

In New York, the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center is a city park, flat concrete with trees placed about. A bustling stage set for the main event.

We were drawn to the sides of a massive square basin.

911 wtc memorial water falling

water fall

People of every size, shape, and color leaned close to the stone edges engraved with the names of the deceased. We peered over to see down into the water.

Thousands of gallons rushed along a run under the stone edges with the names. We could touch that stream. Visitors brought their wet fingers up to the names they knew. Like a drink in the sweltering sun.

roses at 911 memorial nyc


The water from the run rested on a ledge then fell, plummeting straight down to another greater plateau. From there it was pulled across until it dropped out of sight into a deep shaft at the center of the fountain.

911 wtc memorial full shot

9/11 world trade center memorial fountain

I turned to leave. “There are two of them?”

We walked across the concrete plaza to another fountain identical to the first, except engraved with different names. Nearly an acre each in size, these fountains are the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. They trace the footprints of the two World Trade Center towers.

I tried to imagine people running across the courtyard. Tried to see bits of shredded office paper midair.

A museum will open at the site to join the fountains. Reconstruction of new buildings has begun. We’re years away from that day, but we remember.

911 wtc memorial sign

9/11 memorial

On location in New York, second by second, the water reenacts the motion of the debris, buildings, and people. 

It rushes and swirls and falls and is gone.

For He knows how weak we are;
He remembers we are only dust.
Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
The wind blows, and we are gone—
as though we had never been here. Psalm 103:14-16 NLT

Other everyday epistle posts Remembering 9/11:
Somewhere in Pennsylvania,
The Angry American, and
If You See Something.


Filed under America, remembering 9/11

A Special Request

Chef Nusy

Had fun with Reader’s Choice 2011. Hope you did too. Thought it was all wrapped up until I received a comment from my friend Chef Nusy.

Nusy is a friend I would not know except for this blog. We’ve never met in person, but we converse in the comments and her story inspires me.

Nusy was born and raised in Hungary. She immigrated to the United States alone at the ripe old age of 20. Did it for love.

Nusy married and now lives with her husband in California. She coaches fencing, teaches bread making, studies, and writes a blog called And Cuisine For All.

What impresses me about Nusy is her heart of freedom.

Communism anticlimactically fell in her homeland, but not much has changed for her people. So Nusy embraces life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness we Yankee Doodle Dandies sometimes take for granted.

When Nusy’s request reached me, I was moved. Here’s what she wrote:

If there’s still a spot on Reader’s Choice… this is mine. While I enjoyed Milk Wars and I Like My Bike, this was the post that hit me the deepest this year; not just here—all around the blogosphere.

The impact of history on a generation of people… and the lack of impact on those born after the tragedy. As Tolkien would put it, “the sorrow of the Firstborn.” That we have seen and experienced something that no words can ever describe to those who weren’t there to see it; we stand monument to the greatest tragedy of modern times.

Chef Nusy’s Reader’s Choice is:

The Angry American

click to read The Angry American


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Reader’s Choice 2011: Somewhere in Pennsylvania

Christel Oliphant

Christel Oliphant is what we call an LLF. Lifelong friend.

It’s hard to remember when I didn’t know her. Miles separate us now. Still Christel proves the saying true: Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.

Christel’s favorite post was an emotional one to write. Had to relive the shock and sadness I first felt the day the story unfolded, then try to convey it with words.

Christel’s Reader’s Choice is:

Somewhere in Pennsylvania

click to read Somewhere in Pennsylvania


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If You See Something

front porch flag

What did you see?

I saw a quiet September morning. A clear blue sky. A day like any other.

I heard the sounds of my husband showering upstairs. The cereal plinking in my bowl.

The guy on the radio, “This just in from the AP newswire. It appears a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.”

“Jeff,” I called. “They’re saying on the radio a plane crashed into the World Trade Center.”

“Turn on the TV!”

We sat together on the couch, the two of us cloistered in our little Midwestern living room. We stared at the screen. Saw smoke pouring out of the North Tower.

Then the explosion. We saw the South Tower hit in real-time live from New York.

Spent the rest of the day trying to find normal. All the while, horrifying news rolled in from the East Coast like some wayward hurricane making landfall.

I saw the early video of the people falling from the Towers. I saw it before the media decided the images were too disturbing for viewers like me.

Then I heard the Pentagon was attacked.

“Do you think you should come home?” I said to my husband over the phone. “There may be more hijackers on a flight to St. Louis.”

“No,” he said. “We’re okay here. They’re not going to hit a low-rise office building in Clayton.”

“But there might be other cells with bombs,” I said. “Your office has an underground parking garage.”

He stayed put. I drove home. I heard Dan Rather on the car radio, his voice shrouded by the background noise of the South Tower falling. Crumbling, crashing, shattering, concrete, glass, dust and death.

Back at my post in the living room, I saw footage of smoke against grass. A plane crash in a farmer’s field in Pennsylvania.

Saw images of New Yorkers running for their lives. Saw the amateur video from Dr. Mark Heath who stayed at Ground Zero filming through the implosion of the South Tower. “I hope I live. I hope I live,” he said., ©2001 The Record, Bergen County NJ

Could almost smell the ash and dust as it swirled and covered him. Heard the eerie whistling of the firefighters’ equipment in the black of that day.

Hung our flag and placed a candle in our yard. Tasted the tears.

Later that evening I went to my graduate school class. I listened in disbelief as my professor refused to call the attacks evil.

Came home to watch the media whitewash the footage. Pulling photos. Editing out the most startling video. Concluding only a few days into the crisis the public had seen enough. Running film from the attacks would only incite violence.

And now ten short years later, I am saddened when I search for facts to find the web replete with 9/11 conspiracy theories. When I look for comfort to read there is no prayer allowed at the commemoration service in New York.

But it’s too late. I saw what happened.

I am a witness to the attacks of September 11, 2001, along with millions of my countrymen and millions more people around the world. I want to forget, but I can’t. I want to go on as if it never happened, but that would be a lie.

if you see something

if you see something say something

So what does it mean being a witness?

Each of us must decide how to respond. And yet there is one responsibility we have in common, I think.

If you see something, say something. And keep saying it and saying it and saying it.

Earth, do not cover my blood;
may my cry never be laid to rest!
Even now my Witness is in heaven;
my Advocate is on high.
My Intercessor is my friend
as my eyes pour out tears to God;
on behalf of a man He pleads with God
as one pleads for a friend. Job 16:18-21 NIV

Remember the morning of September 11, 2001, with this 9.11 Tribute by Nathan Kress set to the haunting song so popular that year, Only Time by Enya.

This is the final post in a series commemorating the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9.11.2001. The first post Somewhere in Pennsylvania was published August 24, 2011, and the second post The Angry American was published September 1, 2011.


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The Angry American

June 22, 2011

This past June, we took our son on his first trip to Washington, D.C.

Showed him the city in grand style. The museums, the monuments, the zoo. Even the U.S. Capitol thanks to my husband’s college friend Rep. Vicky Hartzler.

Previously I’d spent a good deal of time in D.C. I knew the ropes. But this trip would be my first visit to the Pentagon. Don’t know why I hadn’t gone before.

My husband had work commitments that day, so my little boy and I were on our own. We rode the yellow line out to the Pentagon stop. Emerged from the Metro tunnel into hot, blinding sunlight. Passed through security. Beheld the military headquarters of the free world.

The Pentagon is massive.

the Pentagon Memorial

We walked two long sides girded by concrete barriers. Crossed paths with dozens of strong men and women. Upright, built, neat as pins in their uniforms, marching to their cars or the train. It was late afternoon. Time for some to go home.

Then we came to the place we’d come to see.

It was seamless and silent. Completely ordered. Respectful. Logical. Such a stark contrast to what must have been the moment the plane torpedoed the southwest side of the building.

bench, pool, pebbles

And it was beautiful. The pools of water. The trees and pebbles. The paths and benches.

The benches stood in trajectories arched toward the building for the 59 passengers on the plane who died and arched away for the 125 people in the Pentagon who died. Engravings held the victims’ names.

Another mother walked among the benches and the names with her son.

“How do I explain this to him?” she said to me.

I shrugged. Nodded. Tried to connect with her eyes, “I know. I know.”

a family

My son and I walked on through the memorial. The strange peacefulness that sometimes inhabits a graveyard hung in the air. I wondered if he felt it too.

I let it be. Didn’t try to explain it.

There is no explaining it.

If there is pain, fear, sadness, anger—that’s part of grief. Part of a process that can’t be circumvented, reasoned or negotiated.

"How do I explain this to him?"

The only way through it is through it.

But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
You consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to You;
You are the helper of the fatherless. Psalm 10:14 NIV

Courtesy of The Red , White and Blue (The Angry American)  by Toby Keith expresses the anger and resolve many Americans felt in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

This is the second of three posts commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9.11.2001. The first post Somewhere in Pennsylvania was published on August 24, 2011. The final post If You See Something was published on September 10, 2011.

We will never forget.

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Somewhere in Pennsylvania

wall flag

Driving this past summer between Pittsburgh and Gettysburg. Needed to stop for lunch.

Made our way off the Pennsylvania Turnpike, through a little town, and into a Pizza Hut. The buffet’s a crowd pleaser.

Sat down with our salads and slices. Remarked how this Pizza Hut was unlike any other restaurant we’d visited.

The place was decked out in Star Spangled Banner. Flags hung from the windows, the ceiling, the salad bar. All awash in red, white and blue.

salad bar

It was June 14th. Flag Day. Though it really didn’t matter. I’m a pushover when it comes to Old Glory. This was my kind of place.

Had the iPhone handy, so I snapped a couple pictures. After our meal, I walked the restaurant and snapped a few more.

Flag of Honor

That’s when I saw it. A large banner centered behind the buffet:

Flag of Honor. This flag contains the names of those killed in the terrorist attacks of 9.11. Now and forever it will represent their immortality. We shall never forget them.

Flag of Heroes

And centered on the other side, another banner:

Flag of Heroes. This flag contains the names of the emergency services personnel who gave their lives to save others in the terrorist attacks of 9.11. Now and forever it will represent their immortality. We shall never forget them.

Chilling, dignified, fearless patriotism. Alive and well in a small town pizza joint.

the wind farm

Soon we were back on the Turnpike. Green hills and forests surrounded us with billowing gray clouds overhead.

A wind farm south of the road offered the only hint of motion for miles. Low mountains rose in the distance, ahead of the quiet rain now spattering our windshield.

Picked up the iPhone again. Googled the county where we ate lunch: Somerset.

Mapped it in relation to the town in Pennsylvania: Shanksville.

Somewhere just north of us it happened. The hijacked plane plunged through these skies.

In this air, Todd Beamer prayed The Lord’s Prayer and concluded: “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.”

There was no sign. No fanfare. No convenient off-ramp to pay respects. The highway speeded us through, leaving the place behind in the rain. We’d crossed hallowed ground and nearly missed it.

The people there will never forget. Will we?


Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 NIV

Alan Jackson’s Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning bids us to remember.

This is the first of three posts commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9.11.2001. The second post The Angry American was published on September 1, 2011. The final post If You See Something was published on September 10, 2011.

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Filed under America, remembering 9/11