Before I left for my August travels, an author named Artie Van Why contacted me to see if I’d like to read his short memoir, That Day in September. Unsure of how much reading I would get done during my trip, I was reluctant to commit to another book, but I loaded it onto my Sony Reader anyway. Sitting in the airport on my way home, I read the book’s 50-some pages in one go, unwilling to break it’s spell. Today, as we remember the tragedy that occurred ten years ago today in New York City and the many lives that were lost, I want to share that book with you.
We all remember where we were when we first heard the news that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I had just started college and was sitting in my dorm room, watching the news unfold on my roommate’s tiny TV, my class-ready bag forgotten by my desk. I was lucky enough not to know anyone who was directly involved in the tragedy, but some of my new friends did, and the mood over campus, just a few weeks into my freshman year, was devastated.
Artie Van Why was at work, just across from the towers, when the planes hit. His short memoir, That Day in September, traces how he came to live in New York and work near the towers, his own experience of September 11, 2001, and his recollections of the days that followed. It is a brief but beautiful personal story, one man’s struggle to process and deal with a national tragedy, yet it feels universal. Van Why’s candid prose bring the reader to him, so that I felt his story as my own. In the couple of hours I spent with That Day in September, I lost count of the number of times tears came to my eyes. I’m so glad the author somehow got his story into my hands.
However you spend today, I leave you with these final lines of That Day in September:
“No, I will not forget what I lived through, what we all lived through, that day in September.
“And to honor those who are gone, I will not forget to live.”