For most of us, September 11, 2001 is seared into our brains so deeply we can't forget a minute. But as horrifying as the actual day was, the days and weeks that followed were equally bewildering as though we had broken ground on a new way of life and we were just learning how to exist in it.
Were we allowed to laugh? And if so, how much? What was funny and what wasn't? I was working in television PR at the time and I remember thinking everything we did was so shallow. For months it was hard for me to work when so many people had died. The world felt insane.
Those first couple days were dark and quiet, but then life started to return, slowly but surely. Here are some of those moments:
David Letterman's Return:
Dave Letterman came back on TV on September 17, 2001. The opening monologue struck the perfect note. It was not funny, but it was not dark either. It was deeply honest and it showed us how Letterman was struggling, like all of us, to find his humor, to find who he used to be in this new world. It was deeply human and deeply moving.
Saturday Night Live Return:
On September 29, 2011 Saturday Night Live, the classic New York show returned to the air with Reese Witherspoon as the host. It was a couple weeks later, so it was easier to laugh. But maybe not like we might have liked. It was a time of fear and chaos and Witherspoon's subdued monologue worked perfectly to lighten the mood.
Tom Petty at the telethon:
The September 11 telethon called America: A Tribute to Heroes aired on September 21, 2001 and brought together actors, musicians and performers of all stripes. It was all done in candlelight and all the performances were incredibly moving. But somehow, for me, Tom Petty really captured the hope amidst the despair and the empowerment within the pain. It was a great performance.
Return of Baseball:
Baseball returned six days after the attack, but it was announcer Jack Buck's poem, read at the beginning of the game that made it seem OK to play a game again. "The question has already been answered," Buck said. "Should we be here? Yes!" He spoke of resiliency and endurance. And he did all this while he was dying of lung cancer and had less than a year to live. It was powerful and helped us all believe again.
Bush's 9/11 bullhorn speech:
The time after 9/11 was the first (and only) time in my life where politics mattered less than then unity. When George W. Bush picked up the bullhorn at Ground Zero three days after the attack while so many were still picking through the rubble and feeling dazed and horrified, it was a moment everyone needed. Though so much has happened since, in those early days Bush's words resonated.
What moments touched you the most?
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