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September 11, 2001…We Will Never Forget

As the tenth anniversary of September 11 approaches, we seem to be overrun with images and stories of that day…that I can’t imagine we will EVER forget. Changes in the way we communicate over the past ten years mean that unless you completely unplug this weekend, one can’t help but be brought to tears by the memories.American Flag

I can’t imagine what people whose lives were more directly affected than mine are going through. I would never pretend to do so. But this was a seminal moment for all us in our own ways. It’s like Kennedy’s assassination was for my generation. We were all affected. We all have stories.

Sharing those stories is part of the recovery process. It’s also part of the process whereby we can make sure we never forget. We are passing the memories on to the next generation. Here’s my story:

I arrived home at 2 AM September 11 after visiting my mom in Portland. The phone rang about 5 AM our time (9 ET) and that’s rarely good news but especially since my husband was in the Alaska Air National Guard. I remember Alan listening for a few seconds and silently getting up. Normally I go back to sleep but this seemed different and I couldn’t shake that feeling. He explained all they had told him…basically, there has been a terrorist attack and I need to go to work. I went downstairs with him as he got ready and we watched events unfolding on the East Coast. As he left for work, I wondered when he would be home.

I woke the kids (six and eight) for school because I instinctively knew we had to keep some sort of normalcy in their schedule. As they came to breakfast I explained what I knew and they quickly asked about my friend, Angela, who worked in the Pentagon (we learned the next day she was okay). They left for school where the teachers maintained a sense of normalcy. Like the rest of the world, I was glued to the television, and I knew our world would never be the same.

The sense of community that developed from 9/11 is something I still remember. The sense that we’re all in this together and by banding together we could begin to heal. The need to be with others and share our experiences began that sense of healing. Opportunities to volunteer and help others were quickly filled by those wanting to help. We were one America. We were strong and we were committed to recovering and moving on.

I will never forget that day. I will never forget the days that followed. I will never forget the times we said goodbye to service members who have given so much since that day. I will never forget the volunteers who gave so much to help others through the crisis. I will never forget the sense of community.

And it’s that sense of community I wish we could get back. I wish we could again begin to work together for a better world. I wish we could listen to each other and learn from our differences how to improve our world. I wish we could regain the pride in our country that developed out of 9/11.

I hope my wishes will come true.



By |2018-03-18T22:53:25+00:00September 9th, 2011|Leadership & Networking|3 Comments

About the Author:

Mary Deming Barber, APR, Fellow PRSA, runs a strategic communications consultancy where she helps clients understand how to integrate new media into traditional communication programs. Mary has counseled clients in Tacoma, Anchorage, San Francisco, Oregon, and Colorado for nearly 40 years working with a variety of food organizations, several agencies, and as a key team member on two successful US Senate campaigns. 


  1. itsmelissac September 10, 2011 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    mdbarber I remember being in choir class in high school. All of our teachers attempted to shield our eyes and continue on with the day. One history teacher refused this approach. He brought a TV into the cafeteria and told us to watch. He said history was unfolding in front of our eyes and we needed to watch it. I’ll never forget it and can’t believe it’s already been 10 years!

  2. mdbarber September 10, 2011 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    Interesting how one teacher’s actions made such an impact on you isn’t it. It does seem amazing it’s been so long, and it’s still so fresh and raw in our memories.

  3. KathyNelsonBarbour September 13, 2011 at 10:51 am - Reply

    Mary – thanks for posting this for us. I will never forget where I was when I heard the news. I spent the entire day helping our employees get the news they needed. Some of them wanted to go home and others needed to know more information. Clear, timely employee communications were critical that day. Ten years later, we have come a long way from that terrible news. I am proud to be an American.

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