Remembering the good that followed 9/11

I hope no one takes this the wrong way, but there are some things I miss about the weeks and months following September 11, 2001.

True, it may be easier for me to say this because I suffered no personal loss on that day. I have no personal connection with anyone who died in the Twin Towers, or on any of the four planes that were used as missiles.

But saying that I miss the days following 9/11 is not meant to be flippant. In fact, it actually honors the memory of those who died, as well as the grief of their survivors. Because the things I miss are the noble things they lived and died for.

Faded glory

It’s hard now to remember the goodness of those first weeks. It sounds trite to talk about how we “came together” as a nation, but it’s true. We came together in a way that was larger and purer than anything we’ve done since. We all cried. We all needed help. We all felt betrayed.

We were vulnerable. Yet we dared to express our fears and tears with each other because it was somehow safe to do so. We were all so genuinely sensitive of each other, so very careful and tender!

Do you remember?

We had real conversations.

We wrestled together with issues of faith and anger.

We sacrificed—and we would have given more, if there had been something more to give.

For days, our radios and TVs aired nothing but coverage of the tragedies. Not out of sensationalism or because that’s where the ratings were, but because the media were keeping us connected. Regular programming was suspended. In fact, no commercials ran during those first few days because no one wanted to shatter our fragile connection by jarring us with meaningless jingles for superfluous products. It would have been inappropriate.

Do you remember that?

We spent our lunch hours and breaks building relationships with our co-workers, talking about values and feelings. Listening. Sharing.

We left work early to spend time with our families.

We called old friends instead of watching the game.

We prayed—some angry prayers, some hopeful prayers, all sincere and honest.

We found strength in admitting our weakness.

Real beauty

Those horrible, confusing, painful days following September 11, 2001, also shimmered with a delicate beauty. Though it was real, it gradually faded, because that is the nature of beauty born from tragedy, of good forged from evil. It lives only as long as we give it life.

Do you remember?

Do you miss those things too?


(Author’s note: Photos in this post were taken during a 2007 visit to Ground Zero in New York City.)

11 thoughts on “Remembering the good that followed 9/11”

  1. Yes, I remember. I remember how good it felt to openly talk. But for me I still fear the aftermath of 9/11. I have a brother who is soon going on his second tour of duty to Afghanistan. I have a firefighter/fire chief husband who I know would lay down his life to save a fellow human if called to do so. But I do remember feeling connected to those I barely knew because we shared the tragedy that is 9/11.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this, The good thing that did come out of this was the number of people that came together and came to Christ as a result of this, in addition to seeing how people rallied and worked together as one to assist those at the world trade center. We are having a musical tribute and a moment of silence at the outdoor service for this as well. Thanks for Sharing..


    • Thanks, Gregory. Often, we Americans are too comfortable, too distracted, and too wealthy to feel our need for Christ. September 11 shook us up and reminded us of the only two things that last forever—God and people.

      By the way, for those who don’t know about the outdoor service Greg is referring to, it will be at Living Springs Community Church ( on Sunday, September 11, at 10:00am. Living Springs is at 19051 Halsted Street in Glenwood, Illinois.

  3. Yes, Melanie, I remember and do miss the things you wrote about so eloquently. Thanks for reminding us. We did come together to talk, cry, connect, listen, pray, and share in ways that were not happening the days before September 11 and are not happening now. Our hope as Christians is that one day after all the tragedy and pain of this present life, the Glory will never fade, and the Beauty of Christ will give Life. . . forever.

  4. I was not a believer in 2001.I remember being envious of the people,in the news, praying together and actually seeing faith grow stronger in some of them during this time.I wanted to connect with these people, to this strength ,and feel the peace so many said they were finding,and could`nt.I thank Him every day for my new life.

  5. Emotion, and tears, came often watching this documentary.At the 1hr:10min mark I paused it to go out to get dinner.In my car I felt waves of emotion wash over me again and again.I`ve experienced this before in my walk. I `ve learned to allow myself to feel when this happens,and not to try to analyze everything which is my nature.I was blessed by this.Thank you ,Melanie.

    • I know what you mean. This documentary moved me powerfully when it first aired nine years ago, and those same feelings returned when I watched it again last week. It’s well done. I think PBS re-aired it this week, but they showed an updated version. I want to hang on to the original because I don’t want to lose those raw memories.

  6. I hoped you would understand.I thought this documentary did very well at handling some faith issues by what I assume was a secular production.

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