By: Anne King, Christi GranstaffCatherine Saar

20 years ago, the nation and the world woke up to some of the most tragic news of our lifetime. To this day, it has changed and shaped all of us. In this article, we have reflections about that day and current times from our team.

 

Anna K. Reflections on 9/11. September 11th is my mom’s birthday; the unforgettable day marks countless births and nearly 3,000 tragic deaths. It represents fear, loss of control and innocence, and devastation. It is also characterized by heroism, fortitude, resilience, rebuilding, and rebirth. Out of the ashes, we came together and grew stronger.

 

On 9/11, I was working at an environmental lab as a chemist. In those days, we listened exclusively to the radio at work and heard about the first “small airplane” running into one of the towers. I remember going home for lunch and watching the news, tears streaming down my eyes. My heart poured out for the individuals experiencing and suffering from terror, the loved ones waiting and worried, and the inevitable feelings of fear and insecurity to come.

Christi G. Reflections on 9/11. 20 years ago, on the morning of September 11, 2001, I was finishing up packing for a flight to Washington, D.C., later that day. I had the news on in the background as I was double-checking my itinerary and making sure I had everything I needed for this work trip. Suddenly, there was breaking news along with unbelievable images of the horrific terrorist attack – airplanes crashing into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. What was happening? What did all of this mean? Would I still be able to fly to Washington today? As it became increasingly clear that my flight would be canceled, my work trip that had once seemed routine, important, and necessary to make progress toward our goals, now seemed insignificant in light of world events.

Today we’re facing another life-changing event, a global pandemic. The impact has shifted how we view our world and what we believe to be most important in our lives, similar to the way 9/11 impacted our perspectives 20 years ago.

 

Catherine S. Reflections on 9/11. Early morning, September 11, 2001, I was walking my dog on the beach in Southern California when my cell phone rang and my friend Mike asked, “Did you hear? There’s been an explosion at the World Trade Center in New York.” Shocked and bewildered, I rushed home and turned on the news. Along with the rest of the nation, I sat glued to the television for the entire day mesmerized, tearful, and horrified as the world collectively watched the unbelievable events of the day unfold.

The nation quickly went into shut down and we began to grieve the loss of our imagined safety from foreign attacks in America. Having grown up in New York, it soon became clear that the friends and family closest to me were not injured or killed. I was relieved for that and also devastated. My hometown was desecrated. Unimaginable pain and suffering for the first responders, the victims, their families, and the surrounding neighborhoods would continue for years to come, along with a loss of innocence that could never be restored.

Two decades later, I still touch the sadness of that day, and in 2021, I reflect on the many nations that have been war-torn for decades, and how frightening, confusing, and traumatizing that must be. I reflect on the children who have grown up in a post 9/11 America – who cannot feel as “safe” as I did as a young person. And, having been awakened in recent years, I also realize that for people of color, perhaps America has never felt, or been as safe for them as I once believed it to be.

9/11 was one of the first of many awakenings to the suffering all around me, and for the need to do things differently and better. There is still much to be done to heal and grow and change so that all people can feel safe. September 11th serves as one more reminder to me that the fight is not yet over, and if we do not rise together, we shall surely fall apart.