Ten years ago today, I—like so many others—was at work when I heard some strange news. After a brief time when we could still speculate and cling to the possibility that it was just an accident, my coworkers and I watched something impossible happen on television. As the news grew worse and worse, reality split open.
And we wept with the pain of it.
I heard a report on NPR this week about images this man had collected of September 11th, 2001. He said the most poignant to him was a photograph taken with a box camera of the plane hitting the second tower. He said that the thing that struck him was that it seemed like an image from the 1890’s. This photo made it seem possible that the event would one day cease to be a horror in such a real sense and would instead have retreated into the background of our national history, something that was still horrible but not so painful to recall.
How many years will pass before the stark memory of September 11, 2001, has acquired the patina of history?