9/11 Memorial: Remember Us

By: Bridget Birdsall

Eleven years ago today my younger brother, Christopher, who happens to be eleven years younger than myself, had an appointment in the second tower of the World Trade Centers. Fortunately, he missed his ferry from Hoboken New Jersey. Seven of his friends and associates did not.

That night back home in Rutherford New Jersey, he said the power was shut off in the entire city, the phone lines were jammed and smoke from the twin towers could be seen for miles. People stocking up on food at the local store shared rumors of armed men trying to blow up the George Washington Bridge. Some of their family members were still over on the island with no way to know if they were even alive.

My brother and his wife filled the tub up with water, put their three kids to bed, and waited in the dark with everyone else for the power to be restored and further news. I was home here in Madison at the time, my son, then 11 years old, stayed up that night rebuilding the twin towers on the kitchen table— out of Legos. On the television the images you see here, played over and over again.

Finally, three days later my brother reached me on his cell. When I heard his voice I broke down with grief and relief.

This 9/11 Memorial piece is the result of three mono-type prints I did in an art class a few weeks later. In a mono-type you paint your image on a piece of glass, press it against a piece of art quality paper and run it through a press. In this case it was an old-fashion roller press. Later after the final counts came in at 2,819 names I was able to collect the names online. Each name has been double-checked with the master list to assure that spelling, ages and hometowns were correctly recorded according to the most accurate records available.

You will note as you look at these names that these people came from all walks of life. It is really a broad picture of America itself, with people of all ages and nationalities. The age of the greatest number who died were between 35 and 39. My brother was 39.

I share this piece with you today, so that you too, can remember and hopefully, talk about this day. It is estimated that 422,000 New Yorker’s suffer from post-traumatic-stress-disorder as a result of 9/11. It is also believed that about 20% of Americans either knew or were in some way associated with someone who lost their life on this day. It is important for you to know that if you feel some grief as you remember, you are not alone. When the time is right, talk about your feelings, for only when we let ourselves feel can we heal.

The purpose of this piece is to foster a respectful remembrance and continued healing of our collective wounds. May we together, envision a world where peace is possible, where peace is all there is.

If it’s going to happen it’s up to us! Stay awake. Speak up. Be kind.