I helped compile and edit this article for the September/October issue of Relevant Magazine. It was cross-posted today on the Relevant website.
I heard a story recently about a young man who was walking around the streets of New York not long after the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center had collapsed. An old woman stopped him and said, “I feel sorry for you.” When he asked why, the old woman said, “Because it is your generation that will have to deal with this.”
And it’s true: Sept. 11, 2001, was a startling reminder of just how suddenly and completely our lives can change—how easy it is on a Tuesday morning, under a brilliantly blue summer sky, for a small group of strangers to alter the course of our stories—and how quickly we can veer from action to reaction, and from unbridled optimism to something else.
A decade later, people all around the world are still living in the shadows of the fallen towers and the smoke rising from the Pentagon and the remains of a plane in a southern Pennsylvania field. Americans of a certain age mark time with it. On the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we offer reflections from five writers on what that fateful day meant for them and what they’ve learned since.