This week in the Upfront section of Orlando Weekly, we ran a story called "9/11 by the Numbers: A sampling of facts and figures compiled a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States."
It was by no means an attempt to draw any all-encompassing or definitive conclusions about 9/11 and its aftermath – how could anyone come up with anything all-encompassing or truly definitive to say about an event that, 10 years out, people are still unable to get their heads around?
Really, you can't. But that never stops people from trying. The anniversary of 9/11 is always marked by a frenzied attempt to remember, to infuse the date with as much meaning as possible, to qualify our feelings and emotions. We're bombarded with remembrances and Facebook status updates and furious political messages and sad YouTube videos reminding us that we should Never Forget. And those of us who lived through that date – saw it on TV, saw it in person, frantically tried to reach family members who lived or worked in or around the World Trade Center or the Pentagon – never will forget. In fact, there's a statistic that didn't make it into our 9/11 by the numbers piece (it ended up on the cutting-room floor because we just didn't have the room to run all the tidbits and puzzle pieces and random factoids we found that relate to 9/11) that shows just how well we do, as a nation, remember 9/11:
Percent of Americans who said in a Pew Research poll that they remembered exactly where they were during the 9/11 attacks: 97
Percent who said they remembered exactly where they were when Osama bin Laden was killed: 81
Percent who, in a similar poll from 1999, said they remembered exactly where they were when Pearl Harbor was bombed: 89
9/11 still has a powerful hold on our collective psyche.
But trying to pull together a story that encompasses how, exactly, it has held us in its grasp would be impossible. This week, we pulled together three stories that don't try to qualify or explain how and why 9/11 clings to us and we cling to it. Instead, we tried in our own way, to quantify it:
Number of pages of the bipartisan Congressional Joint Inquiry on 9/11 report that the government has redacted and refuses to release: 28
That number plays a key role in Jeff Gore's cover story on Bill Doyle, a Central Florida retiree whose son, Joey Doyle, died in the World Trade Center attack. Doyle is part of a movement to demand that the United States government release those redacted pages, which he and others think holds information that ties influential Saudi Arabians to the funding of the 9/11 attacks. He's also a plaintiff in a massive lawsuit that hopes to bankrupt those Saudi nationals suspected of bankrolling the attacks.
Number of storefronts on Prince Street in New York City that were filled with photographs solicited just days after 9/11 by Michael Shulan, creative director for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum: 2
Those photographs are now on display at the Southeast Museum of Photography as part of A Second Telling: September 11 – Here is New York; the exhibit, reviewed by Richard Reep, includes work by both famous photographers as well as random (and sometimes anonymous) citizens who bore witness to the attacks and the horrific days immediately following it.
Then there's that by the numbers piece, just an attempt to cherry pick a few telling facts and figures from the river of information about 9/11 that sometimes feels like it's threatening to drown us. We used the following sources to try to channel that flow. If you're looking for more reading on any of the topics in our list, click the links below:
"United in Remembrance, Divided over Policies," Pew Research Center, pewresearch.org
Historical Debt Outstanding, U.S. Department of Treasury Bureau of Public Debt
National Priorities Project, Cost of War
National Priorities Project, Trade Offs (at costofwar.com)
Iraq and Afghanistan coalition military casualties at icasualties.org
“Current and Projected Future Costs of Caring for Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars,” Linda J. Bilmes, Harvard University
“Sept. 11 Death Count Increases by One,” David Caruso, Associated Press (via Huffington Post)
“Whose War?” The American Conservative
“September 20, 2001: Neoconservative Think Tank Demands Bush Invade Iraq ‘Even if Evidence Does Not Link Iraq Directly’ to 9/11 Attacks; Also Demand Attacks against Syria, Iran, Hezbollah,” historycommons.org
2009 NCTC Report on Terrorism, National Counterterrorism Center
“Muslim-American Terrorism Since 9/11: An Accounting,” Charles Kurzman, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security
“Controversies Over Mosques and Islamic Centers Across the U.S.,” The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life
Secretary Napolitano Announces Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Request, Department of Homeland Security
Advanced Imaging Technology, Transportation Security Administration
“FEMA removes 9/11 coloring book for children from website,” Christian Science Monitor
"We Shall Never Forget 9/11," Really Big Coloring Books