During our Legacy Film interviews, we often ask individuals if there are any national or world events that they would consider as significant to their lives. Each person we ask has their own unique response and memories.
It can be difficult for some who are very close to traumatic events to share the enormity of their suffering. However, reminiscence about these events in our lives can give us an opportunity to honor loss, cope with grief, explain a worldview, and validate our life experiences.
What, if any, national or world events have been significant to you?
Tuesday, September 11, 2001 was a defining moment in my life story and a day I remember like it was yesterday. I was at home in Austin, TX watching the Today Show before work as the events of the day unfolded. What I remember: the silence, the worry for friends and family, fear, and sadness.
I would imagine that, in light of all that is happening in the world today, the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 is especially meaningful to many of us this year for a million different reasons. To say that the day upended so much for so many is an understatement. Like the current pandemic we are living through, 9/11 changed much about the way we live – personally and as global citizens.
I just finished the book “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11” by Garrett M. Graff. As many prepare to observe the anniversary of 9/11 and as we consider all that feels uncertain in our lives, I commend this book to your reading list. I am so grateful to the individuals who participated in this project and allowed for so many different voices to be captured, and I am inspired by the work of Mr. Graff to put these stories together in this way.
As I read this book, I found encouragement in the strength and care that is possible in our human family. I was reminded of the gift of love in our lives that is more powerful than evil and pain. And I was humbled as I read these stories to consider again how life’s seemingly ordinary moments can, in an instant, become extraordinary.
As you think about the events of 9/11 and the impact of this and other world events, I invite you to seek out a story that you haven’t yet heard about the day. Read “The Only Plane in the Sky” or another book, watch a documentary, listen to a radio broadcast, or simply ask a person you encounter what they remember about that day. For some reading these words today, you may encounter stories from a time you never even knew.
There is much to learn about the context and timing in which traumatic life stories come to be told, but I invite you, for now, to listen to another’s story with fresh ears as a way of honoring those who lost so much and, perhaps, as a way to consider your own losses in recent months. Embrace the echoes of a person’s story, and see how it changes your perspective or does something to bridge the human-to-human chasms we experience today. As we receive these stories of 9/11 and other important life and historical events, we might remember that it’s possible to live into a hope-filled future.