Typography

Sunday, Sept. 11, marks the 15th anniversary of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Most of us remember exactly where we were when we heard about the attacks. Current high school students view the attacks of 9/11 the same way some of us see the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, or the Attack on Pearl Harbor or the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand — as a historical incident that set in motion a series of world-changing events but one that lacks the visceral immediacy of the memory.


To them, the date is a cause that led to the effects: The invasion of Afghanistan, the opening of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, the invasion of Iraq under false pretenses of alleged weapons of mass destruction, the unprecedented use of torture, the 10-year manhunt for and eventual death of a Saudi terrorist mastermind, the democratic revolutions of the Arab Spring, increasing number of terrorist attacks against “soft targets” in Western Europe, the collapse of Syria and the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

But the horror of that September morning remains untouched by the geopolitics.

For 2,977 people, there was no Sept. 12, nor any day thereafter. Some were killed in the aircrafts’ impact into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pa., others died in the fires, some fell to their deaths from the Twin Towers or when the buildings themselves collapsed after burning for hours.

The one image that remains seared in my mind is a brief television clip of two people seemingly holding hands as they fell from somewhere around the 90th floor.

I do not know what these people thought as the buildings burned. Whether they tried to contact family on cell phones. The conversations they had prior to and after the plane’s impact. Whether they even knew this was a terrorist attack or whether they simply thought it was a horribly tragic accident of a commercial aircraft striking a skyscraper. Whether they slipped or, knowing death was inevitable, chose to fall to avoid a more horrible death by fire.

The only certainty I have is that it takes the human body about nine seconds to fall 1,140 feet — an impossibly long time.

Because of the towers’ subsequent collapse, their identities remain forever ambiguous. Their seeming anonymity allows us to contemplate what we would have done if trapped in the same desperate circumstances.

On that day 15 years ago, what would you have thought about in those seconds?

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A girder from the World Trade Center is now part of permanent memorial at Sedona Fire District Station 6 in the Chapel area. The men who welded that girder into place on the 20th floor back in 1977 never imagined it would one day be placed in the sun, thousands of miles away in a city as beautiful as ours, yet here it is, to memorialize those whose never imagined the day that would be their last.

The dedication service for the memorial takes place at noon Sunday, Sept. 11.

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