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Tuesday, September 11, 2001. It is 4.00 pm Central European time and I arrive at my French teacher’s house. Entering her house, my intention to greet her was consumed by her words: “Despoina what are you doing here! Haven’t you seen what is going on in the world?” The TV at the living room was on, broadcasting the image of the North Tower covered in a dense cloud of grey dust. A popup window at the bottom of the screen was displaying in sequence the Boeing 767-223 diving into the North Tower. Two minutes later – 4.02 pm. Central European time and 9.02 pm. New York time – the second airplane crashes on the South Tower. It is still hard to forget how much I was struggling to believe that what I was seeing was live and it wasn’t part of a movie. My first thoughts were jumping from “what did these people inside the towers feel?” to “what is going to happen next?”
Tuesday, September 11, 2001. In less than two hours the World Trade Center complex turns into a pile of dust, metal pieces, and almost 3000 people end up buried underneath them. ‘The day that changed the world’ is probably the phrase that has been used more than any other, to summarize all the changes, thoughts, and feelings that followed the Fall of the Twin Towers.
The global response to the call for help was measured both in the empathy with the unforgettable ‘Nous Somme Tous Americans‘ (‘We are All Americans’) of the front page editorial of the French newspaper Le Monde, as well as the hundreds of letters that were sent, and the blood donation that reached the equivalen of 600,000 bottles sent from across the globe.
During that time I was only 12 years old and it was hard to catch up with the political discussions that followed. However, the first pictures and videos that were broadcasted through the TV and the other mass media shaped my memories from this event. A man standing under the Twin Towers looking all light-hearted, until the moment of the explosion of the commercial plane crashing on the first Tower over his head. Pictures of people starring from the ground, running away to avoid the clouds of dust that were approaching them. Pictures of firefighters, nurses, doctors, and citizens united under the veil of the grey dust. The picture and the video of ‘the Falling Man’ remind me those 200 people that were estimated to have jumped to their deaths.
Today, September 11, 2013 I am sitting in front of my computer screen looking on the ‘Reflecting Absence‘ Memorial through Google Earth 3D. Mark Lawrence Charette, and Christian Louis De Simone are two of the names of the approximately 3000 names that are engraved on the side plagues of the Memorial. My eyes run over them and keep reading more names as I continue navigating through the digital map. They are not just names. Each one of them tells the story of a father, a mother, a sibling, a husband, a wife, a daughter, and a son that misses his or her beloved ones.
Today, I am looking on the photos tagged 911remembrance on Instagram. I see the American flag; I see a silhouette drawing of the Twin Towers held by a hand in front of the position where the Twin Towers used to stand; I see cards, candles, roses, and teddy bears. I fall across the short story of a mother who narrates how one day before the incident she was celebrating the birthday of her daughter at the same place where the airplane crashed. Her story reminds me how life changes from one moment to another…
Pastbook created an album to remember those who lost their lives in the September 11, 2001, and honor those who still miss them.
Keywords: September 11 Anniversary, September 11th, 911, 911remembrance, memories, Reflecting Absence, Twin Towers, World Trade Center, New York City, Instagram, Google Earth 3D