4 min read

21 years

21 years

A few stories, on the twenty first anniversary of 9/11.


We rode to the 9/11 memorial after Emma's swim lesson in Lower Manhattan tonight.

Emma's seven and hasn't been there since the pandemic, so I needed to explain it all again, as if for the first time. How men hated America enough to kill 3,000 people – and themselves. How firefighters and policemen rushed into the burning buildings to save lives. How Mom and I remember exactly where we were when we heard the news. How the people standing around us right now might have lost moms and dads and little sisters, so we're going to be quiet and respectful. That this is why we do what we do when we get on a plane.

There was a sense of her registering that this is a thing that can happen.


Our friend Nissa ran the 5th Avenue Mile today. Nissa runs a lot of races. This one's a lot shorter than the 10ks and half-marathons she's been running to prepare for the New York Marathon. It's one mile, mostly downhill, on Fifth Ave. She thought today'd be a bit of a checkbox.

But today's 5th Avenue Mile race fell on 9/11. Instead of the cutesy encouraging signs you'd normally see along the route like, "Find a cute butt and follow it!" she saw, "Run for the ones we lost!"

Nissa ran hard.


Our friend Shari edits video for MSNBC. Before the pandemic she commuted into the offices at 30 Rockefeller Plaza everyday. This was the first time in twenty years that she has not edited a package that included footage from September 11, 2001.

"If I never hear that bell again...."


Marcus Robinson is an artist and filmmaker who's spent the last sixteen years telling the stories of the men and women who rebuilt the World Trade Center. He won a BAFTA (a British Oscar) for his documentary Rebuilding World Trade Center which you can watch it on Apple TV here. The line from the film that stands out to me is, "We're healing a scar on the skyline of New York."

The owners of the World Trade Center are so appreciative of Marcus and his work that they've given him a vacant floor in the WTC to use an an art studio for the last fifteen years. I had the privilege of shooting some photos from his studio earlier this year.


I traveled to New York on a work trip in May of 2014, the same week that the 9/11 Memorial opened to the public (we lived in Chicago at the time). I was out for a run, happened upon the memorial, shot some photos on my iPhone, and later wrote, "I don't believe I'll ever see a more perfect memorial."

I reread that post again tonight for the first time in years. The words I wrote then still hold true.

Here's some photos from this week, and years past.

Thanks to Nissa, Shari, and Marcus for sharing their stories. To Emma for asking good questions. And to Hannah for challenging me to think about how to serve folks who lost someone.