Monday, 11 September 2017

I've been saving these newspapers since 2001...

Here is my annual homage to 9/11, a post I wrote on Sept 11/2011, one decade after the World Trade Towers fell:

...and today, I finally have the fortitude to read them, once again.

I just didn't have the heart to read the newspapers that arrived on my doorstep bringing the images and words from New York City on September 12, 13, 14, 2001. Instead, I flipped through them, then stored the newspapers carefully in my office, and promised to read them some time again, in the future.

That future date is today, one decade later, September 11, 2011 (9-11-11, btw). I've just put the newspapers down. They are crinkly and aged, after just 10 years. They are dusty, and smell like my office, that quiet place of books, markers and stored papers. I've seen them there over the years, but I've never felt ready to reopen them.

Today, I do. I notice as I unfold the dry pages, that The Globe and Mail was larger then, the pages wider and longer, somewhere along the line in the past decade the Globe must have retooled and shrunk a bit. I wonder how I didn't notice that.

The headlines, "A Day of Infamy" (Sept. 12, 2001) and "Bush Girds for Battle" (September 13, 2001), are in huge, 100 point type, wartime type, Kennedy Shot type. As I hold the papers, I have a sudden physical connection with that day, ten years ago, that a computer image would not reproduce (although I've tried here for you). My 17-year old daughter and I look through the browned pages and images together. We are both reverential, silent, reading. The TV is on in the background as we read, and children and adults are at the new 9/11 memorial, which opened today, reading the names of the dead. It is a fitting background for looking at these saved papers.

And the newspaper images are still startling. They are larger than life, iconic and indelible now, ten years on. The man in the business suit with his tie over his face. The woman who looks like a concrete statue. The flare of flames out of both towers. The cloud of debris. The exhausted firefighters. The falling man, the jumper, in the white jacket (which I will never, ever forget, and which my daughter couldn't believe was real, I assured her it was).

As I hold the paper, I have no trouble remembering how it felt to see the images for the first time, to remember that day, so clearly. There is still a hint of naivete to the articles, the full tragedy not having had time to unfold, the dust truly not yet settled. I'm surprised at how much the newspapers got right: Osama Bin Laden is named as the leading culprit on day one. World leaders instantly call for calm, for a measured response to the attacks. Jean Chretien vows to help. International experts say that Afghanistan and the Taliban are sure to be attacked, and Iraq. I'm also surprised at how we have let fade the one thing that the papers got wrong: the terrorists did NOT come from Canada, as was suggested in the first few days.

I'm thankful that the world did not become a terrorist state. I'm thankful that there have been no more terrible terrorist acts on American, or Canadian soil. I'm also thankful that, for the most part, North Americans have continued to live peacefully with Muslims, and people of every faith.

I'm glad I saved these two newspapers. They give me a physical link to 9/11 that I would have lost. We like old things, physical reminders of events and places, at least I do. Then I realized why it really mattered that I saved them: my daughter looked through them then said, "Thanks for keeping these Mom. I want to show them to my kids one day."

I'm putting them away for September 11, 2021. What will the world be like then?

EDIT 2017: Here's a video I watch every year. Tom Hanks narrates the story of the Great Manhattan Boatlift, the largest civilian rescue at sea in history, where half a million people were removed from Lower Manhattan by boat in nine hours, bigger than the evacuation of British forces at Dunkirk in WWII.

First Posted by PD Sept 11/2011

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