9/11 Was a Warning of What Was to Come

George Packer in The Atlantic:

September 11 is buried so deep under layers of subsequent history and interpretation that it’s hard to sort out the true feelings of that day. But I remember one image with indelible clarity. It’s the face of a young woman in a color photograph on a flyer that appeared at the entrance to my subway stop in Brooklyn, around my neighborhood, and then all over the city. we need your help, the flyer said. The sign was posted right after the attacks and stayed up long after it stopped being an urgent request to locate a missing person who might be wandering through the ashes of Lower Manhattan, and became a tribute to a lost daughter. The early hours and days were like that. The facts were incomprehensible. How many people died, how many survived, did any survive? When would the next attack come? Who had done it, and why?

Through most of September 12 and 13, I waited to give blood with other New Yorkers in a long sidewalk line. “I volunteered so I could be a part of something,” an unemployed video producer named Matthew Timms told me. “I’ve been at no point in my life when I could say something I’ve done has affected mankind. Like, when the news was on, I was thinking, What if there was a draft? Would I go? I think I would.” A teenager named Amalia della Paolera was passing out cookies. “This is the time when we need to be, like, pulling together and doing as much as we can for each other,” she said, not “sitting at home watching it on TV and saying, like, ‘Oh, there’s another bomb.’ ”

More here.