If I’m being completely honest, September 11, 2001 is not the clearest day in my memory. I was five years old and the most exciting thing going on was starting first grade and getting a puppy a few months before. As every morning goes, my father would take me to school before rushing to work as a carpenter. There was nothing unusual about the day until my class was told that we would be leaving early and that we were to wait for our parents quietly. I was the last student to leave. Years later I was told he worked just six blocks away from the south tower. That day he had to walk back to Brooklyn because every train was shut down. The week following was filled with new articles and videos of the tragic events that occurred. It wasn’t until some years later that I fully understood the loss that the world endured. Interestingly enough, throughout high school I would spend two hours a week at Goldman Sachs for a business program. Throughout the four years that I went, I watched the Freedom Tower and the memorial grow from the ashes of building I can’t completely remember. Every week I would stare at the unfinished buildings and wonder how something so beautiful could come from such destruction.
The 9/11 digital archive is the most shocking collection of photos that I have seen regarding the topic. It shows both the overly publicized news version and the personal photos and accounts that were never heard. The first time I attempted to go through the archive, I was immediately hit with images of people stumbling out of rubble, hard working men and women trying to rescue as many as possible, and many faces of pain and agony. Within a minute I couldn’t handle any more than I’d already seen. For the first time in fourteen years, to have all of this information with so much understanding of the events was overwhelming. In thinking of the emotions of the families that were directly impacted, this archive cannot be helpful. It is a constant reminder of the loss and pain that thousands have felt and an example of the fear that many Americans still feel today.
The aggregation of this information is monumental in the recording of such a tragic event. To create the ability to constantly add on and view both the censored and uncensored collection from 9/11 gives the people complete control over how the event is remembered for centuries going forward. For someone that was so young at the time, to be able to look back and see what I couldn’t understand so many years ago brings a deeper sense of respect. As I look back through the archive to finish this post, I can’t help but think how much has changed from 2001 to now. So much more information is easily accessible but the pain it represents can never fully be translated by technology.