9/11 Stories: "No One Talks About That"

Susannah Breslin reaches out to a Wall Street corporate lawyer turned yoga instructor, journalists and writers, and a former Army combat medic for their stories about how the terrorist attacks of September 11 changed their lives: 9/11 Stories: No One Talks About That - Forbes.


  1. An hour or so later, I remember talking to a woman in her fifties, covered in soot, who told me in a calm, unemotional voice, like she was telling me what she had for lunch, how she had been leaving the tower with her best friend who had been hit by debris and killed.  The woman was wiping at her jacket with napkins and said, “And now I don’t know how I’m ever going to get this jacket clean.”  She kept wiping and wiping.

    I’m glad these stories are being told. Something like this can’t be imagined. Thanks for posting.

      1. Get a grip. Nobody is being “harsh on her” except in your imagination. Like I said the first time, I’m glad these stories are being told.

        1. It’s just so common here for people to write/snark the opposite of what they think. I got your sincerity the first time (because I wanted to read your comment that way), and I appreciate it.

  2. Maybe it’s just being a New Yorker, but I feel like I’ve heard these kind of stories before.  (Not that they’re not important.)

    You know what story I haven’t heard?  I want to hear from the nannies who worked downtown.  Who were separated from their own children and were stuck being responsible for the children of others.

    I feel like all you ever hear are the stories of middle class people.  (And I say that as someone who was at NYU at the time.) 

    1. Speaking of things nobody talks about.. Personally, I’m waiting for NY/NJ’ers to publicly wonder when we get our world-renowned rep for toughness back.

      Manhattanites will probably get a free pass regarding all things 9/11 for the next 5, maybe 10, I think. Still, it rubs me the wrong way. It’s been officially 10 years. Some bad shit went down. We move on. Fuggedaboutit has been replaced with ‘never forget’ NYC, I am disappoint.

      As it stands, any time I present the above opinion, I’m stared at as if I dropped a baby on its head & laughed. Too soon? Probably.

      I’m sure the Civil War, WW2 & I know Vietnam were not casual topics of breezy conversation until decades later..and given certain audiences, still arent.    But that’s what bugs me…you’re better than this, New York.

      1. I’m with you on that one.  I was living in NYC in 2001, and I thought people there reacted pretty well.  Mostly, people’s first instinct was to help other people.  Mostly, their second instinct was to go to have stiff drink. 

      2. I think it depends on who you’re talking to.  I don’t forget it but I certainly don’t dwell on it.  I ride subways (hell, I rode one back home that afternoon after they started working again), I go to work, I don’t talk about it, I don’t bring it up.  I wouldn’t say I’m over it in a way that I’m cool with seeing video of it over a day or flipping through a book of images but that’s my hangup, mostly because some bad shit did go down that day that I don’t want to discuss.  If you were there you don’t probably need to talk about it much.   I guess you just need to talk to a different subset of New Yorkers?

      3. My impression is that the ‘Never Forget’ nonsense is not a New York thing, but a marketing gimmick spun up by people who don’t live here (and Rudy Giuliani).

        In December 2001, 3 months after the attacks, I flew to NY and then took a cross-country flight. The people I hung out with in New York seemed to have already ‘moved on’ – they didn’t make a particular fuss about 9/11, and it didn’t even come up much as a topic of conversation. In contrast, the further I got from NY, the more people seemed to want to talk about it. By the time I reached Arizona it seemed to be a virtual full-time obsession with almost everyone I spoke to.

        I moved to NYC about a year after that and in the time I’ve lived here I’ve yet to hear anyone local tell me that I should ‘never forget’. Even those of my friends here who were directly affected have – outwardly at least – long since come to terms with it. The only time I ever heard someone hint at lasting trauma was when a colleague became noticeably edgy on the anniversary. Another colleague said “Yeah, he had a bad September 11th”. When I asked what he meant, he said: “He worked downtown. He was close enough to watch the people jumping from the buildings, and to see them land.”

  3. I especially liked the essay from the guy who admitted to making money off 9/11.  The idea is gross (to me), but at least he’s truthful.  How many politicians and government contractors have admitted such?

    1. I used to work for a guy who, while doing a lot of good working at Ground Zero, inflated his own ego and bank account, and bragged about one or the other depending on how badly he had just fucked you over.

      I’m glad these stories are being told.

    1. It was either flagged enough to be automatically binned or it was deleted by a moderator to avoid an off-topic flame war.  In case you misunderstood the headline, this post is not about conspiracy theories.

  4. It changed my life, and I was nowhere near the East Coast and didn’t lose any friends or family in the attacks. I saw that this would seriously screw up the very civil liberties that the USA waves in other countries’ faces, because what government could resist the chance to lock down everybody for the sake of “security”, and to go off starting random wars in search of vengeance?

    I quite my job at a defense subcontractor two days later, and never looked back. At least I’m not part of the horrible machine that has taken over our country.

  5. There’s also the stories of the hundreds of undocumented day laborers who were lined up every day on Broadway below the WTC site in the smoke and dust to take work cleaning the offices wrecked by 9.11.  This in response to the ‘back to normal’ mentality that prevailed in the days/weeks after the disaster. They were told by their bosses not to wear masks, not to scare the others . . I saw them every day.

    My wife did a health study with hundreds of these workers months after 9.11 for a local non-profit. Some were already very sick, a few already dying – but being undocumented – all were disappeared – many went back home to Mexico to die.

    The EPA had declared the air safe in lower Manhattan – again reinforcing the mantra to return to shopping and Wall Street. The EPA was then headed by Cristine Whitman, former governor of NJ who gutted the environmental protection laws and regulatory enforcement in her first weeks of office as governor.  Thousands will die early deaths as a result of this Bush Administration lie – emergency responders, ordinary workers and the forgotten . . .

    The other disappeared invisibles were all those middle eastern men who were taken in snatch and grab missions by the NYPD and FBI under questionable auspices. Often crashing into homes after midnight the men were taken from their families never to be seen again. They were held in dentienton and deported or imprisoned before their familes were told what happened. Tragic responses to a tragedy.

    1. The EPA had declared the air safe in lower Manhattan – again reinforcing the mantra to return to shopping and Wall Street.

      The Bush Administration was anxious to show the world, especially the U.S.’s many enemies, that the attack had no effect on U.S. stability, and power. Those people didn’t care how many more people would die in service to an appearance of invulnerability.

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