As a graphic designer, I jump at the chance to work on projects that hold special meaning. So when I was assigned to work on an internal project honoring the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I was excited, but I also felt some trepidation. 9/11 is my generation’s JFK assassination. We all remember where we were. I was in my college dorm room with my two roommates, watching in shocked silence as horrible events unfolded on a tiny, 13 inch television screen. How would it make me feel to revisit the tragedy of that day?
As I began to wade through mountains of research, YouTube videos of the towers collapsing, helicopter footage shot by the NYPD, audio recordings of phone calls from trapped and frightened victims, and obituaries of the almost 3,000 people who were killed, I began to better understand the enormity of what had been lost that day. A death toll is just a number. It’s not a mother, uncle, best friend, or sister.
In the end, we decided to remember individuals, ordinary people who died on 9/11. I happened across an online newsletter organized by Arnie Korotkin. If it has to do with 9/11, he’s probably in the know. I sent him an email asking if the people on his mailing list might be interested in sharing memories and photos about the person they had lost. He thought they might be, and he forwarded my request to the thousands of contacts on his list. I started getting emails and phone calls from 9/11 family members. They’re a tight knit and determined group, these 9/11 families. They’ve lost so much, but many of them have turned tragedy into hope through scholarship funds or foundations to help raise money for causes they care deeply about.
The people that contacted me believe hope can flourish even among the ruins of devastation. Ever since that fateful day, they’ve been a force for change in our nation and world. Their stories have saddened me and inspired me at the same time. I hope others who watch our video also feel called to action.
It’s the least we can do to remember the 2,996 people who were killed ten years ago.