Remembering 9/11: 20 years later

Sep 11, 2021

Editor’s note: In honor of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, TPG is reposting some of our anniversary coverage over the years.


 

Ten years ago, TPG reader Mark sent me some incredible 360-degree pictures he took of the World Trade Center in June of 2000. He wrote, “I think it would be nice to step back in time and remember the Twin Towers as they were,” and I couldn’t agree more.

View from the top of the towers
View from the ground plaza

I vividly remember being a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh on Sept. 11, 2001, and being awoken by a frantic dorm mate saying that the country was under attack. Earlier that morning our entire dorm was evacuated for a fire, so I was extra tired and stunned by the news. As the events transpired we ended up getting evacuated again as we learned that a plane went down outside of Pittsburgh and that more might be on the way.

I also remember watching the replay of the planes flying into the twin towers — horrified, like everyone else, by what was happening. I truly felt like the world was coming to an end.

Would life ever return to normal? Or would our lives be filled with terrorist attacks constantly from here on out? Would I ever be able to travel again? That feeling of hopelessness has returned multiple times in the last 20 years, especially in the middle of another crisis shaping the travel industry — the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s incredible how two completely different events could change the world as we know it. Twenty years ago it was the shock of violence on our own shores — for many of us, just blocks from where we lived — and now it’s the ongoing battle of a pandemic.

Our lives are all so different than they were 20 years ago but we somehow find ourselves trying to find the silver lining again in an otherwise dark and foreboding reality.

Family members of 9/11 victims tribute their loved ones on the 19th anniversary of September 11 attacks in New York City on September 11, 2020.
(Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

I’ve found a silver lining in the last year and for me that means slowing down, rebalancing my life and deciding what’s important. If you follow me on social media (@briankelly on Instagram), you know that I have found so much joy in learning to ride my horse, Carbon, and spending time with my two adopted dogs, Marshall and Celine.

But the most exciting thing to come out of the whirlwind of the last year is that I’m taking steps to realize my biggest dream — becoming a father.

It’s been two decades since the morning I was woken up in my freshman dorm to find out that our country was under attack. I look back on that day with a more mature insight into how the world can heal from trauma like that and I’m optimistic that we can heal again from the pandemic that we find ourselves in today.

But still, we should take time today to honor the memories of those that we lost on Sept. 11, 2001, while also looking ahead to a brighter future.

Featured photo by ericsphotography/Getty Images.

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