Because the tales of the few survivors from near the impact zones are harrowing beyond belief. The 911 tapes released reveal the desperate, terrified people calling for help, screaming about the heat and the flames and the smoke, begging for someone to “come get us,” until they succumbed to the fire or died when the towers collapsed.
Because the tales of people who weren’t killed on impact had to choose——try to go higher in the buildings because they couldn’t breathe or battle to walk down-—and too many chose to go up and walked to their certain death.
Of course there are layers and layers of issues and reality to “9/11.” And the cultural personification of all of that can sometimes be bewildering, tedious, crass, empty-feeling.
But none of that is important. All that matters is remembering, as best we can, that so many of the nearly 3,000 had the agony of knowing they were in mortal danger---whether trapped in an airplane hijacked by terrorists, or in the Twin Towers or the Pentagon--with absolutely no preparation or context, and they died violently, into oblivion. So few bodies were recovered from any of the attack areas.
Our brothers and sisters were murdered for no other reason than that they worked in one of the world’s great symbols of freedom.
We simply can’t remember these people enough.
Rest in peace.
(Flag from back page of NYTimes from Sept. 16, 2001)