Ten years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, the world has changed in many ways and has remained the same in many other ways. To mark the 10-year anniversary, National Journal is featuring readers' photos and stories of their memories of that day and the days that followed, but also how the attacks affected their lives. Continue to send your photos and stories to email@example.com. Please include your full name, city and state.
Not Just a Symbol: Preston A. Rickwood, Lilburn, Ga.
... Forget the politics and the posturing. Forget the fear mongering and empty rhetoric. Lots of things got wrapped in the flag in the following years, not all of them good. On Wednesday, September 12th, 2001, flying the flag was not just a token, not just a symbol, not just good marketing or politics. It was an act of defiance.
Eventually, September 11th is going to have to be just a day, with ‘remembrance’ confined to the ‘On this day…’ column in the newspaper. Not just for me, but for everyone. Right now, what keeps me keepin’ on is the thought that each day that passes is a day closer to that day.
I’ll never forget. How could I? Now, ten years later, I finally feel like I might get over it.
The Messenger: Judith Joseph of Northbrook, Ill.
I was driving to my job, teaching art at a Catholic middle school in Chicago when I heard on the radio that the first plane hit. I imagined a little Cessna-- there had recently been such a crash in Texas, where a man flew a small plane into a high-rise building. By the time I reached the neighborhood of my school, there was a bulletin that the second plane had hit. I instantly knew this could be no accident. When I walked into the building, I carried a terrible burden: my day started later than the school day, and several hundred students and all my colleagues would be unaware of this unfolding horror. I was the messenger. ...
... As the day wore on, we heard about the attack on the Pentagon. Some of my students worried about their parents, who were at work in the Sears Tower, or other tall buildings in Chicago's Loop. I assured them that there had been no attacks in Chicago, and that everybody here was safe. At the same time, I worried about my parents, who had departed London early that morning to return home to the Midwest from a vacation. I later found out that they were on one of the last flights to take off before all flights to the U.S. were grounded, and they landed in Canada that afternoon. It took them a week to get home from there.
Before the school day ended, the principal gathered everyone for an assembly in the chapel. Our school counselor led us in prayer with a guided meditation, encouraging us to feel the souls of the dying, as if we held them in our hearts, as they perished. I found this deeply disturbing and unbearably sad, and worried how it might affect the children. ...
Flags Across America: Robert Carley of Darien, Conn.
On 9/11, I stood in my Stamford, Conn., office overlooking Long Island sound, watching plumes of white smoke from the burning towers in Manhattan. Almost immediately, tributes to America began to spring up everywhere. Flags sold out and homemade ones were created. People turned to our national symbol, the flag. It came to life in new ways.
This outpouring of patriotism inspired me greatly. I decided that I had to pick up my old Nikon and document this resilient spirit that was sweeping the country. I started off taking photos in my hometown of Darien and then eventually branched out traveling all through Connecticut and New England. Finally this year, I made it to the west coast. So far, I have been to 43 states with seven more to go.
I thought that my photo project would last a year or so. I never dreamed that in 2011 that I would still be at it. Thanks to my friends and coworkers I have continued to discover wonderful tributes, although they are getter harder and harder to come by.
Eye of the Storm: David de Sola of Washington, D.C.
I graduated from college in the summer of 2001 when I made the decision to head to Washington, D.C., to pursue a career in international politics or international relations. My roommate and I settled into our apartment in Glover Park in late August. I began an internship at the Organization of American States the first week of September after Labor Day.
I overslept that Tuesday morning. I didn't want to make a bad impression by showing up late so I skipped breakfast and drove to my office at Foggy Bottom. I still remember that drive very well 10 years later. There was little traffic on the streets, and the weather was spectacular.
When I got into the office at around 9:10 a.m., I settled in to my desk, turned on the computer, and as soon as I checked my usual news sources for my morning read that I found out what was going on.
I recall reading a report -- which turned out to be inaccurate -- that as many as 10 other planes were still unaccounted for. At that point, anything seemed possible. I also began asking myself if terrorists were attacking the commercial, banking, or financial icons or institutions of the United States and if the World Trade Center was already hit, what else was left? The list I came up with was the Sears Tower, the Federal Reserve, Fort Knox, the International Monetary Funf and World Bank -- the latter two were located directly across the street from my office. Five minutes later, I found out the Pentagon was hit.
Looking back on it now with the benefit of a decade of hindsight, that day had a profound impact on me in ways I couldn’t have imagined at the time. After I began my journalism career in late 2002, the 9/11 plot became a personal and professional interest of mine. In time, this interest would expand to include other national security and foreign policy issues. Nine years later, I’m still in journalism and am halfway through a masters program at Georgetown University’s security studies program.
My concentration? Terrorism.
View from Afar: Marta Dydycz of Warsaw, Poland
On 9/11 I was not only a 10-year-old who didn't understand many things, I was also (and still am) a citizen of Poland. So at that time I really had no idea what was going on; however, I knew that something really terrible had happened. I remember my mum picking me from school. She was really nervous, talking on the phone with my dad and some of her friends. I don't remember the words she said, just the tension in the car. Then on TV I saw planes crashing into two very high buildings. Why would somebody do that? I hadn't realized before how evil and cruel things people can do. I knew about the World War II; my grandmother told me about escaping Ukrainian partisans, and I'd seen statistics, photos. But 9/11 was happening right there on TV! Everything was transmitted live from New York City! When our American friends visited us two days later, we went to put candles in front of the American embassy. I think it was the first time I'd seen so many candles and crying people in one place. From that time, I know that we never know what's going to happen. I don't remember words people had said. I remember fear, grief, uncertainty.
10 Years Gone: Eli Gelber of Efland, N.C.
I wrote this song in remembrance of those who lost their lives on 9/11: