Strength and fragility.

I've kept it all these years.

This was the headline from the Herald-Tribune, September 11, 2001: “Fragile Beauty Under Assault”. It was an article about coral reefs which seemed interesting to me when I bought the paper that morning in Braga, Portugal. Later that day, it felt almost prophetic. Irrational, I know, but it seemed that reason did not exist on that day. Sheltered from the day’s events by 3,000 miles of ocean, I still reeled from the images from my home. Even after knowing my brother, who worked one block away, was safe (what fortune that he wasn’t on site that day), as were the rest of my family, I still felt dizzy and sick. I had always thought the Towers were beautiful, but the word ‘fragile’ would never have entered my mind. Not until I watched them crumble.

I’m not one for overt, public declarations of mourning, and I honestly did not plan to sit down and write this. I pulled out my file of newspaper clippings that I collected for the year following the attacks. I wanted to privately commemorate that day and how I felt. When I came to the Herald-Tribune, I suddenly wanted someone else to see it. And so I offer it up as my small tribute.

Ten years later, we are rebuilding. Our strength is not just in our structures and our symbols. It is in ourselves.

17 thoughts on “Strength and fragility.

  1. I appreciate the September 11 newspaper showing the headlines for the day published before they knew about the attacks. When I was a kid I would go to the library and check the old microfilm of the local paper on historic days before they had received news of Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy assassination.

    • I would have saved that paper no matter what, but that headline seemed particularly poignant. It’s like being able to hold onto one last bit of the old, more innocent world before it all changed.

  2. I agree with GG (and not because he of his lack of crush on me). I appreciate the headline for that day – before the day changed. I also find the reference to fragile beauty under assault eerily poetic. If only we could ‘get’ these messages before such attacks.

    Glad you posted this, L.

  3. What a perfect post. I do hope others read this, so that they compare the before and after. I totally get why you saved our last minutes of global innocence, and to think you were some thousands of miles away when it happened. Thank goodness, your family was safe. Madrid appearing in the dateline caught my attention. Then the “Fragile Beauty Under Assault” and finally your perfect tribute of hours and minutes before.

  4. Pingback: When words aren’t good enough, we just need a date. | As a Linguist…

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