What to Remember: Believe it or not, I was writing NextDraft during 9/11. On the morning of the attack, I wrote the following: “At least four commercial airliners were hijacked this morning. Two flew into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Both Towers have completely collapsed. Another plane flew into a wall of the Pentagon and caused major damage. The fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania. The President is currently in an undisclosed location. Federal buildings around the country have been evacuated. Many high-rises around the country have also been evacuated. All U.S. commercial flights have been cancelled. Streets in most major cities are nearly empty as the country gathers around television sets to absorb more details about a moment in U.S. history that we all knew was possible, but that that we never thought would happen. In the coming days, there will be much analysis about the performance of the U.S. Intelligence agencies, investigations into these acts and undoubtedly, severe and swift retaliations. But for now, the focus must be on downtown New York where people wait for word on what will undoubtedly be grim, horrific and historic numbers of deaths.” And a couple days later: “Throughout the last few days we have heard from nearly every political pundit who has been full of commentary on the performance of President Bush. Some have even criticized his decision to delay the return to the White House. Many more have criticized his speeches and comments. We know George W. is a lousy speaker. This is not a time for political pundits (including this one) to feel we need to hear the drone of their constant flow of opinions. Cut the hogwash. Put on a pair of gloves and help dig.” Our reaction to 9/11 still impacts us to this day (a point made wildly clear by recent Afghanistan headlines). But it’s worth noting that, in the days and weeks following 9/11, there was a sense of national unity. I wonder if that unity would happen if the attacks took place in today’s America. Our reaction to the common foe of Covid makes me think I wouldn’t like the answer to that question. But for today, I’ll think less about our divisions and more about the 9/11 first responders who ran toward the Twin Towers when everyone else was running away.

+ For some, 9/11 is a terrible memory. For some, it is a history lesson. For some, it is the cause of lifelong grief. Jennifer Senior in The Atlantic: What Bobby Mcilvaine Left Behind. “For years, Helen thought about that diary. Her mind snagged on it like a nail; she needled her husband for giving it away; it became the subject of endless discussion in her “limping group,” as she calls it, a circle of six mothers in suburban Philadelphia who’d also lost children, though not on September 11. They became indignant on her behalf. A number proposed, only half jokingly, that they break into Jen’s apartment and liberate the diary. “You don’t get any more memories,” one of the women told me. ‘So anything written, any video, any card—you cling to that. That’s all you’re going to get for life.'”

+ For others, it’s a physical pain they can feel to this day. WaPo: Pentagon burn survivors are thankful for life, though pain endures. “It’s gotten to the point now where I can’t stand for nothing to touch my skin. Twenty years is a long time to be in pain.”

+ “In the picture, he departs from this earth like an arrow. Although he has not chosen his fate, he appears to have, in his last instants of life, embraced it. If he were not falling, he might very well be flying. He appears relaxed, hurtling through the air. He appears comfortable in the grip of unimaginable motion. He does not appear intimidated by gravity’s divine suction or by what awaits him.” Tom Junod: The Falling Man.

+ A Netflix Documentary Series: Turning Point: 9/11 and the War on Terror.