by Brad Herzog
11 Sep 2014
Nearly every year on this date, I try to examine the tragedy of September 11th from a different angle. In fact, I wrote a book about a decade ago that essentially did just that. Part of what I attempted in my American travel memoir, Small World, was to explore the reactions to the horrors of 9/11 from various points of view. And I came to realize that, actually, the view was much the same everywhere. I found that, no matter where people lived—from Prague (Nebraska) to Vienna (South Dakota), from Congo (Ohio) to Calcutta (West Virginia) — they felt a kinship with victims of that day, whether they knew them or not.
I’d say this is evident in the myriad 9/11 memorials that now populate the landscape. Solemn remembrances (often in the form of remnants of the World Trade Center) can be found in Austin (Texas), Lansing (Michigan), Carmel (California), Windermere (Florida), Havelock (North Carolina) South Bend (Indiana), Parsippany (New Jersey), Dodge City (Kansas)—and literally hundreds more places.
But about 12 months ago, I discovered a place where you can get that regional perspective of a national tragedy simply by visiting one place — the Newseum in Washington, D.C. For me, the most riveting exhibit in this remarkable museum was the 9/11 Gallery. Its centerpiece was a mangled communications antenna that once topped the North Tower. There was a damaged piece of the Pentagon, too. And, this being a museum about the First Amendment and the press, the exhibit told the story of the only photojournalist killed in the attacks.
But it was the wall of front pages that took my breath away. There were, I believe, 136 of them — from all over the country. Indeed, all over the world. They were all from September 12th. Every one of them, in probably the boldest headlines since Pearl Harbor, offered a regional take on the tragedy. What photo did the editors choose? What headline? The choices convey perspective, emotion, shock.