Sep 12, 2011


By: Amy Atlas, in Amy's Latest

Zach affixing his “We Remember 911” ribbon to the Ribbon of Remembrance Exhibit by Ground Zero.  Scroll down to see more pictures of the the site on the Anniversary.

I received a lot of emails and facebook posts yesterday from readers telling me they wished they were in New York yesterday for the 10 year anniversary.  Because of that, I thought I’d share a little of what New York City was like for us yesterday.  I sometimes struggle with the decision of whether to share these personal moments {to maintain my family’s privacy} and whether this blog is the right platform, but I felt the need to express what I was feeling yesterday on here.

The lump in my throat yesterday felt enormous.  Yes, living in New York City through the ten years and knowing people who perished on 9/11 is enough to do that.  But there was something about yesterday that felt bigger than that to me. After catastrophic events like 9/11, there are milestones like the 1 year, 10 year, 25 year milestones, etc.  To me, it seemed like yesterday was still raw enough for our city (and country), yet I felt like the next milestone will no doubt feel more removed.  I saw many tweets from young adults who remember being in 5th grade science class or art class when the first plane hit.  The next big milestone will be a lot different. There will be a lot more people who will not remember where they were because they weren’t born yet. This filled me with sadness.  How do you keep the importance of the day relevant for the next generation?  How do you keep the legacies alive of those who perished?  I have to admit that when Memorial Day Weekend or Veteran’s Day approaches, I’m thinking about a day “off” or a way to entertain.  Often, when you are very far removed from an historic event, it is hard to understand the loss. I felt guilty about how I perceive those holidays yesterday.

I also felt helpless about how my own kids will perceive 9/11.  They won’t remember “where they were” because they weren’t even born yet.  It wasn’t the tragedy of their generation. The same way that JFK’s assassination wasn’t mine.  I know I mentioned on Friday it would be a bittersweet weekend because Zach’s birthday is 9/11.  At one point yesterday after lots of cake and golfing, we gave our son Zach a choice and asked him if he wanted to visit the memorial site on his 7th birthday or wait for another day.  Since he has known about it and was interested, he said yes.  This warmed my heart.  He knew from us that the 10 year mark was a very important day.

Down by the site, the mood was somber; the sky was ominous; but one thing was very real and uplifting. There were people who were banded together by this one event.  New Yorkers.  Americans.  People all around the world.  We were all touched.  Law enforcement officials were everywhere and we all felt proud to have them around us.

I was so proud when Zach wrote “We Remember 911” on a ribbon and hung it on the Ribbon of Remembrance Exhibit at St. Paul’s Chapel.  He decided what he wanted to write himself and hung it with such precision.  I wasn’t the only one whose eyes were filled with tears.  There were many onlookers who were choked up as well.  At that moment, I felt Zach was able to feel a connection to this event, even though he wasn’t alive when it happened.  I think yesterday will be his memory of “where he was” on the 10th Anniversary.

How will you continue to remember and honor the people who lost their lives on 9/11?

PS – I’ll get back to regular posts.  I just needed to share this with you all.

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  • Kelsey

    Poignant, Brilliant. I was one of those people that I wished I was there. Thank you.

    • Crystal

      Thanks for this. It’s a different scene when you’re “on the ground”. This is so much more personal and makes me realize how truly personal this loss is for New Yorkers. We love you New York!

  • Ruthie

    Thank you for sharing this with your readers. I live in Texas, and wish I could have been at any of the memorials yesterday.

  • Thank you for sharing. I was there yesterday too, I’ve never heard such silence in NYC. My 9 year old daughter signed a ribbon too, “Remember to love each other”…. I cried. You’re right, we have turned many historic days in to days of celebrations, but this one can not become that. We have to teach our children that it’s a different kind of memorial day. We need this “holiday” to always be one of remembrance and reflection for what america lost.

  • Su

    I have grandchildren that will not have the personal connection, but it will be up to me, and their parents to continue to share and teach what happened on 9/11. With 2 firefighters, a son and daughter-in-law who served in the military through some of the early and later years, I am confident my grandchildren and the generations to follow will not only learn to remember and reflect; they will be raised to be proud that they live in America and stand shoulder to shoulder with others to keep to our principles, morals, values and freedom; and to remember to live and love as if there is no tomorrow.

    • Amy

      Wow, you should be very proud of your family Su. Thank you for sharing.

  • Patty O’Brien

    Im from New York City and was there when it happened. Since then i have moved to California and truly miss home. I will always be proud of the way we behaved after this tragedy. There was no looting, no fighting…just a united front. Everyone pitched in to help their fellow men.
    Many here don’t truly understand what we New Yorkers went thru, they sympathize with us and had memorials here, but it wasnt the same. How I wished i was there yesterday. Thanks for sharing a little bit of that day with us who are far away from home.

    • Amy

      So true. I’m glad you were able to see a piece of home yesterday:)

  • Britt Hunter

    Thank you Amy for sharing this with us. I applaud you for sharing this with your son.

  • Thank you, Amy for sharing this with us. I’m from Brazil and we had a 9/11 remembering moment at the church yesterday.

    This is an exhibition being held in Dublin(Ireland) and Chicago at present. The Incredible photos were taken by an old school friend, a professional photographer working in New York at the time. It is through these kind of exhibitions that the younger generation will have an understanding of what happened that day. To see the wall of missing persons reproduced in front of you, personalises each and every person that died that day.
    People worldwide will remember 9/11 as a sad sad day, one can only imagine how it must feel for those living in New York and those families who lost loved ones and friends. x

    • Amy

      I will check out. Thank you, Dawn.

  • Rena

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I really appreciate what a wonderful person you are and family you have. This post shows us that all your parties come straight from your heart.

  • Wendy

    thank you for taking the time out to express your thoughts and feelings and share your pictures with us…beautiful. I’m an Australian and will never forget the moment when the dreadful news broke, the images and horror of it will always bring me to tears. You’re right, it was the tragedy of our generation and we gather our hearts alongside yours in honouring those who lost theirs lives and the great heroes who risked theirs. Blessings of love and peace to you and your country.

  • Many thanks Amy for your honest thoughts and pictures of a day that was very sad but important to everyone around the world. Please know that your neighbours north of your border in Canada have shed many tears for you all. Good for you for giving your children the choice to attend this important occasion. At times we are unsure of how children will react in these situations but they are the purest of heart and emotion at that age. They may not understand the events but they understand the emotion. And to add their own words and ribbon to the fence lets them know that they can be apart of the healing process. They will never forget it and it is the greatest lesson in humanity, both the good and the bad, that no book will ever teach them. God Bless you all.

    • Amy

      Well said. Thank you, Jo-Ann.

  • Love this Amy! love seeing your heart. NEVER apologize for that!
    And thank you for honoring the police officers. (My husband is one for 18 yrs now in md) <3

  • Thank you Amy for sharing….showing people what you’re made of, whats in your heart – never needs an excuse. You’re raising a special little boy! He obviously has a wonderful Mommy!

  • Aubrey Stephenson

    Hi Amy,

    Thanks for sharing this. I also felt a greater sadness yesterday than I have in years past. I also thought about how this must feel similar to those who lived through other life changing events such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor and yet it’s just another day to me. It’s sad that the emotional connection and impact is lost through the years. I’m glad you and your son shared a special moment yesterday.

  • Amy, thanks so much for sharing this. I am a new yorker who has lived in Florida for many years and I so wish I could have been there. I felt such profound sadness yesterday. Having a child since 9/11 has really changed the way I feel about that day.
    And happy birthday to Zach!

  • Amy

    Thank you all so much for your comments. They are all touching.

    • I read your post about naming Zach and it really moved me! In light of this post it really warms my heart to see you all together as a family doing this. It’s just so wonderful!

  • Una pena muy grande…gracias por mostrar estas fotos.

  • Kristy

    Thank you for sharing these pictures. Very moving, indeed.

  • Sharnel

    Thank you for sharing this with us Amy.

  • Thank you for sharing this. This is the first 10th Anniversary “news” that brought tears to my eyes…more real to see you son experiencing this. Great point about seeing the holidays as days off and how we need to keep it real for future generations.

  • Dalia

    Reading this post…my eyes are filled with tears. I think that it is so very noble of Zachary to want to express his emotions and visit the site on his birthday. That in itself shows that you’ve taught him the importance of preserving the memory of this day and keeping the legacy of those who perished very much alive for the generations to come.