The biggest single tragedy in American history happened 17 years ago today, and I could still point to you the seat I was sitting in during Ms. Talbot’s freshman year Algebra class. I can still hear a crystal clear playback of my principal’s voice over the intercom becoming more skittish as he realized that announcing the situation out loud for the first time made it real, shattering forever my cushy bubble of security I came to think was an innate right.
Thankfully, I didn’t lose a loved one in the 9/11 attacks, but I know I speak for a lot of Americans when I say the loss feels immensely personal, especially today.
Every year leading up to the anniversary of the attacks, I make it a point to consume as much 9/11 content as my emotional bandwidth will allow. I read articles and watch videos of courage and loss, blurred through a wall of tears. I think I do it primarily because I feel a sense of human obligation to submerge myself in the sickening details of it all, the details that nearly 3,000 families who lost someone can never surface from. To allow myself to be temporarily ravaged by the horror is to stand in solidarity with those who have no choice.
In remembrance of September 11, I revisited the story of Welles Remy Crowther, a former Boston College lacrosse player turned equities trader who helped at least 12 people escape the the World Trade Center South Tower at the cost of his own life. If you aren’t familiar with Crowther’s story, please watch the nearly 14-minute video below.
The New York medical examiner’s office said his body was found totally intact, with no signs of burns.
For those who live in New York or plan to visit, Crowther is memorialized at the South Pool, on Panel S-50 at the National 9/11 Memorial.