It was 18 years ago and forever, another date which will live in infamy, a day that leaves a mark that won’t go away. All of us who were alive on that day remember where we were, how it felt, the limits of our imagination. I tweeted out earlier today that one of the lessons of 9/11 is how it takes a tragedy of enormous proportions for this riven country to come together. It was all too brief. Soon, there would be a disastrous war in Iraq and demonstrators in the streets. But we each have our 9/11 stories. I took the first plane out of Denver to New York. The airports there were closed. So I flew to Dallas — where it took hours for the airline to find flight attendants willing to fly — and then onto Philadelphia, from which I took the train. When I got to New York, I took the subway to the only downtown station and somehow talked my way past security to get to West Broadway to see the shaken rescue parties trudge back from the Pit and the sight of too many bodies. I saw George Bush give his megaphone speech. I heard dogs whose owners would never return for them barking at the neighborhood doggie care center.
At every year, on this day, or maybe a few days before, I turn back to Tom Junod’s Esquire story of The Falling Man, and the photo of one of the jumpers. The fact of the jumpers became too much for many to take, but this photo ran across the world. The story is of the photo, taken by AP photographer Richard Drew, and the search to learn the identity of the Falling Man. It hurts still to read it, but reading it ensures that we remember, always.