On September 11, 2011

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Safari

In each of our lives there are events that are so powerful, for good or for bad, that they leave an indelible mark on us as individuals. The same holds true in our national memory. The assassination of President Kennedy, the Challenger disaster and now, the event that took place ten years ago today, are among the those moments when the question “Where were you when you first heard about or saw what was taking place?” is easily answered. I remember EXACTLY where I was, what I was doing and how I responded that morning and I suspect many of you do as well.

We thought long and hard about how best to mark today and realized that, more than anything, today is about honoring the memories of those who were murdered that day and of those brave individuals who lost their lives trying to save others. Today is also about supporting those who were most affected by the events of the 9/11 attacks and for whom it is the daily reality. Today is about remembering the dangers of fanaticism in all its forms and it is a day to remind ourselves that, as individuals and as a nation, we are remarkably resilient.

On September 11, 2001 we saw the worst of what humanity can do but we also saw the best of what people can bring to one another. There were so many acts of bravery that took place that day and there was so much support and kindness shown to one another in the days that followed. So perhaps more than anything else, today is a day when we can recommit ourselves to doing our part to make the world a better place.

This is the only post we will be putting up today as we honor, remember and mark this anniversary.

Feel free to leave your remembrances, comments or thoughts in the comments below. And in keeping with our hope that today is not only a day of mourning but also a day to recommit ourselves to doing more good for one another, if you saw or heard about any acts of kindness in the aftermath of the attacks please consider sharing them.

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.

10 Comments on "On September 11, 2011"

  1. Francis Scardino | September 11, 2011 at 1:32 pm |

    My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who lost a loved one 10 years ago this day. My hat goes off to all the first responders and people who gave their lives to help save those caught in this of cowardly act of terrorism. One nation, one fight.  You will never be forgotten.

  2. Such a sad and scary day. It was difficult trying to explain and describe what was going on to a classroom full of high school kids. Thoughts with all on this somber day.

  3. I was living and working in suburban Boston, and had a visiting scientist from a company in California with me working on a joint project.  For some reason we weren’t in the wafer FAB yet but were doing stuff on the computer when the first word of the attacks came in … then we saw the second one on live stream from CNN.  It was surreal.

    Over the next few hours and days we realized that no one who worked with us had died, but there were several people I knew through the company who were on the planes or had immediate family on the plane.

    The woman who was visiting was stuck in Massachusetts for a week with her husband and parents on the west coast understandably worried about having her so far away … and needing to fly home.  Fortunately everything worked out well for her getting home.  Even though both of us are at different companies we keep in touch, with that September day being a strong connection through the years.

    That day was also my younger son’s first day at pre-school, and after dropping him off my wife and older son (who was in the afternoon preschool) went to the playground for a couple of hours, and came back to a total mess of people crying and upset and my wife had no idea what was happening.  She didn’t have a cellphone yet, so I had no way to contact her – I left a message on the home machine, but she didn’t come home until after she knew.

    I agree that we saw the best and worst of humanity that day … and have continued seeing the best and worst.  And some of the worst has come from our own people.  While some mistrust of Muslims from the Middle East in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, to continue to have it be so prominent a decade later shows widespread ignorance and mindless hate.

    Isaac Asimov said “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”  And for a time it seemed like we were more focused on a diplomacy-first approach to things.  

    But in the last decade, we have become extremely pugilistic, attacking anyone and everyone who doesn’t share our values anywhere in the world, taking prisoners and denying basic human rights.  And inside our own borders we have taken step after step to restrict the rights of citizens and expand the ability of the government to do whatever it wants against citizens and remove recourse.  It is a scary vision to look back and see how we have edged further and further towards being just what we said we didn’t want to become.

    But for today, it is important to remember those who lost their lives a decade ago, those who managed to survive, and the scores of those who didn’t think at all about themselves as they worked to help others. 

    • Amen to that Michael! 

      I was visiting a congregant in the hospital and watch on his tv as the second plane hit. I don’t think I have ever gotten to my synagogue as quickly as I did that day and within a short period of time we were working to put together a list of who in our community worked there. Within minutes the calls started coming in from people in the community who wanted to know what, if anything they could do to help. All while the shock was just beginning. 

      A day or two later we held a special worship service. We let who we could know by email but our website was not much a communication tool at the time and mostly it was going to be word of mouth. Despite that I think we had about 1500 people here. The same was the case throughout our larger community. The vast majority of people who were there weren’t there for theological reasons. They were there because they KNEW they wanted to be with others to support them or to be supported by them. It was inspiring. 

      The voices of intolerance, anger and exclusion often tend to be quite loud. Today I am reminded that the vast majority of people are good, caring, kind and fair. Those are the voices I want to listen to and those are the voices that desperately need to be speaking the loudest if we are going to get things back on track.

    • Amen to that Michael! 

      I was visiting a congregant in the hospital and watch on his tv as the second plane hit. I don’t think I have ever gotten to my synagogue as quickly as I did that day and within a short period of time we were working to put together a list of who in our community worked there. Within minutes the calls started coming in from people in the community who wanted to know what, if anything they could do to help. All while the shock was just beginning. 

      A day or two later we held a special worship service. We let who we could know by email but our website was not much a communication tool at the time and mostly it was going to be word of mouth. Despite that I think we had about 1500 people here. The same was the case throughout our larger community. The vast majority of people who were there weren’t there for theological reasons. They were there because they KNEW they wanted to be with others to support them or to be supported by them. It was inspiring. 

      The voices of intolerance, anger and exclusion often tend to be quite loud. Today I am reminded that the vast majority of people are good, caring, kind and fair. Those are the voices I want to listen to and those are the voices that desperately need to be speaking the loudest if we are going to get things back on track.

  4. I was on my way to work, worried about my sister and her husband who were on a naval base in Norfolk, VA preparing for the birth of their second child.  The base went to a high alert, and there were no calls in or out and we had no idea what was going on, and wondered if that naval base would be a target, since it was so close to DC. 

    While my prayers are with all of those who lost a loved one in NY, DC & PA that day, my family is one of the many who had babies born that awful September morning.  For us, our sadness and horror has been tempered with the joy of a new life, and the careful balance of celebrating on a day when our nation mourns.  Today, as my niece turns 10 years old, we celebrate her life and the joy she has brought to us.  At 10 years old, she is still too young to truly appreciate what it means to have been born on 9-11-01.  There is no way to avoid her knowing, of course.  There is the fact that she is separated from her father, who is in the Navy and stationed on board a ship that is in the middle east today is a very direct result of what occurred, but he was able to call her and wish her a happy birthday.  Her mom won’t let her watch TV today, so that she can keep the focus on the positive.  I wonder as well, how the other families with babies born that day deal with this issue.  There are thousands, but those children aren’t old enough to carry the weight of what happened, nor should they ever have to.  And yet they are the symbols of hope, the reality that life goes on, even in the face of grief and unimaginable horror. 

    My sympathies to all the families who lost a loved one that day, and my best wishes and Happy Birthday to all the babies born that day, particularly my niece Mikayla!

    • JD- You just had me in tears! Seriously. Thank you for sharing this. 

      And Mikayla- Happy 10th Birthday!

  5. I was a junior in college on 9/11. I woke up and immediately headed to my computer like every morning, and that morning I had two instant messages from my friend telling me “Wake up Carly!” Followed by “Turn on the tv. Big stuff happening.”

    I also remember going to that friends dorm room later, where he was emailing and IMing California-based friends who went to school in NYC. As soon as he would get confirmation they were ok, he called their parents for them, since we could get through in Mass., while outgoing calls from NYC were obviously dicey.

    But what really sticks with me that day was the one class I attended. It was a 3-hour, once a week seminar, and the professor was known for being insane about attendance. Most of us showed, figuring she would dismiss us but since we hadn’t heard from her we went to be safe. The class was called “A History of Violence in Western Philosophy” or something similar.

    We walked in, and a tv had CNN on. My prof stood in front of it, with her hands clasped behind her back. She rocked back and forth and said “Well. Don’t we have interesting timing for this class.” She then assigned us an addition to the syllabus to expand our studies of Islamic history and philosophy.

    That really stuck with me, mainly because my professor really wanted us to understand that was happening was not all of Islam, and that violence is something we have struggled with since the first time two humans agreed not to stab each other in their sleep. Its not that we couldn’t take the time to mourn or sit shocked but she wanted us to not come away from that day or that semester with hate in our hearts.

    I can’t say that I think of that lesson daily, but its a memory and a lesson that sticks with me whenever I think of 9/11.

    • That day was truly a teachable moment for all of us in education. At one point during the day I had a pretty large group of kids just hanging in my classroom asking questions and trying to grasp what was happening. I had to remain completely calm and just answer what I knew and find answers to what I didn’t all day long. I remember looking up at the sky as I walked through the parking lot thinking about how there were no aircraft allowed in the sky. What a strange concept!

  6.  I was working at CSCC still, but as a mainframe operator at that time.  It was payroll day and I waled out into the lounge when the second plane hit.  We closed early and ran payroll that would have normally run that night in record time and I left by 12 as they were shutting down campus and most of downtown since Columbus is a state capital and a home to many federal services.

    The eerieness of no planes in the air is the thing I most felt in the next couple days.  That followed by misunderstandings of almost everyone. My boss asked me to take the flags I stuck to my monitor down and someone was even asked to turn their shirt inside out because it had a pro US statement on it or flag.  I also worked with a person who had converted to Islam.  We had many conversations about it.  I wanted to understand why.  In the end, we remained friends and she even went to bat for me to let me keep my flags.

    The thing that really inspired me about the days that followed was how there was an actual outpouring of support from people all across the world.  US flags and signs of prayer and support being displayed all across the world instead of protests against some odd foreign policy.  Signs that said the world actually cared about the US.  That was a great thing and one I wish had continued.

    Prayers have gone out to those most affected and to those first responders who gave what they could,..

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