photo collage of victims of 9-11 as we remember and reflect 20 years later

Live Wisely - September 12, 2021

20 Years Later: Remembering and Reflecting on 9/11

By Amanda Ranowsky

Those of us old enough to remember the events of September 11, 2001 can recall exactly where we were when we first heard the news. I was in my eighth-grade gym class when a boy leaned over and asked, “Did you hear about the two planes that hit the World Trade Center?”

At the time, I didn’t even know that the World Trade Center was comprised of two towers. My first thought was that it was a terrible accident involving small planes, and I wondered how such a turn of events could happen – that two aircraft could accidentally hit the same building on the same day.

As the day wore on, the full and terrible truth gradually emerged.

My story is one of millions, though at 20 years after 9/11, there are a growing number of people – namely children and an ever-growing percentage of young adults – who have no recollection of that memorable moment in history.  I am one of the Millennial generation – the last generation to have been old enough at the time of the attacks to comprehend what was going on and be able to remember the event firsthand. Much like the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War and JKF assassination were to me, to those in the generation following mine, 9/11 is now a history lesson learned in school. With the passing of each year, the number of those with no firsthand recollection of the events of 9/11 only grows. And that is one of the reasons we take time to write about it today.

Recording History from Those Who Lived It

It is important to capture firsthand accounts of events. In doing so, we help to preserve history for the generations that follow. Using primary sources to teach history humanizes events for students, and shows the subjective nature of historical accounts. Perhaps, then, by gathering as many primary sources as possible, we can reveal a glimmer of truth.

At Goodwin House Inc., we wanted to do our part to record firsthand accounts of 9/11. We asked residents and staff to share their memories of 9/11 and their reflections on how the events of that day have shaped the past 20 years. On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we shared a compilation of their stories.

In the interests of preserving and sharing the historical insights we recorded, we felt it was important to share each participant’s story in full, as well. Those who participated represent a wide variety of ages, cultures and perspectives. A former high school teacher recalled her students’ response to the tragedy. An immigrant who was living in Morocco at the time of the attacks shared his plea for acknowledgement and understanding of the true nature of his faith. A former Cabinet-level assistant secretary who had worked in the Cabinet of President Bill Clinton recalled how missing a meeting at the Pentagon saved his life that day.

These are just a few examples of the stories we recorded. We invite you to explore this playlist and hear the moving accounts of more than 20 individuals as they share their personal memories and reflections on 9/11.

Most of all, we invite you to join us in the helping future generations read, hear and learn from firsthand and primary sources about 9/11 and remember the many lives that were lost and many more that were irreparably touched that day.


As Marketing & Communications Specialist, Amanda Ranowsky partners with colleagues throughout Goodwin House Incorporated to tell our stories and raise brand awareness. From printed collateral to digital marketing, Amanda covers many bases. Before joining GHI, Amanda worked for a small, family-owned business where she gained experience in content marketing. Amanda’s creative expression extends beyond the office. She is an active member of community theater and chorus groups.

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