Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Remembering 9/11 all these years later

9/11: One Day in America was sitting on my DVR for a long time. The 2021 six-part National Geographic documentary (that they show at the 9/11 Memorial museum and that’s also available on Disney + and Hulu) is still something that is painful to sit through. But it is important to watch and remember one of the darkest days in this country’s history.

I was living with my girlfriend, soon to be wife, at 12th and N Streets NW near Logan Circle in Washington D.C. She had already gone to work in Rosslyn and I was getting ready to leave for my job at the World Resources Institute. I had the TV on and started following the news, never to leave for work that day. Meanwhile she would exit work and, with a plane crashing in sight from her office into the Pentagon, the Metro closed and she had no choice but to walk home from Virginia. We would go out to somberly meet friends that night at the Townhouse Tavern, making our way through silent streets reminiscent of what a nuclear zone must be like.

The show follows events in a generally chronological order, with emotional interviews of key people from that day. There’s the TV crew that were lucky enough to get turned away by first responders, almost surely in turn saving their lives. There are people who were saved from being trapped in offices and under rubble. There is a woman who survived after a piece of one of the plane’s landing gear sheared off her back as it fell from the sky. There’s the woman whose son was one of the small group that attempted to fight the terrorists on the plane that landed in Pennsylvania, which was later suspected of heading towards the U.S. Capitol Building.

The footage, shown from seemingly as many angles as exist, of the planes again and again hitting the two World Trade Towers is - there are hardly words for it - extremely powerful and still so sad.

The series doesn’t go into other types of details, such as where President George W. Bush was that day (reading to school children in Florida) or the political and military hunt and war that was about to be launched in the fight against the Al-Qaeda terrorists responsible for the attacks. You’ll have to go elsewhere for all that. But what you get here is more than enough.

5 out of 5 stars

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