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Essential Reading: Remembering September 11, 2001

Looking back at 20 years of incredible journalism about 9/11, including on-the-ground reporting, oral histories, and personal essays about the day the world changed forever.

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The day September 11, 2001, is burned into America’s collective memory. And if you’re of a certain age, you remember exactly where you were when you realized the magnitude and horror of what was happening. In many ways, that reckoning has never ended. Twenty years later, we’re still struggling to comprehend that day, and the world it created.

As we reflect on the anniversary of the attacks, we’re revisiting the stories that have stuck with readers over the past two decades. From the first anguished reports from Ground Zero, remembrances of those who lost their lives, and essential reporting that captures what it was like on the terrible day. Read, and remember with us.

Death Takes Hold Among the Living (2001)

Pete Hamill
New York Daily News

Legendary New York City columnist Pete Hamill‘s dispatch from lower Manhattan, published September 12, 2001. “We were gathered at a large table in the Tweed Courthouse, discussing over bagels and coffee its future as a symbol of civilization, a museum of the history of New York. About 8:45, we heard a boom.”

12 Days at Ground Zero (2002)

C.J. Chivers
Esquire

They called it the Crater, the Pile, the Hole, the Reckoning, Ground Zero. There, a village formed to reclaim the ground that had been lost. This is the story of how C.J. Chivers made it his home in September 2001.

The Real Heroes Are Dead (2002)

James B. Stewart
The New Yorker

The Vietnam veteran helped save hundreds of lives on September 11th, before he was swallowed by the South Tower collapse. “For Rick Rescorla, this was a natural death,” his best friend said—a hero’s end.

The Falling Man (2003)

Ton Junod
Esquire

Do you remember this photograph? In the United States, people have taken pains to banish it from the record of September 11, 2001. The story behind it, though, and the search for the man pictured in it, are our most intimate connection to the horror of that day.

The 9/11 Eulogies (2011)

Harry Siegel
Village Voice

John Avlon, chief speechwriter for Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, led the group that spent the weeks after 9/11 writing eulogies for each fallen fireman and police officer, giving him the “dark distinction of probably writing more eulogies than anyone else alive.”