Twenty-one years ago on this date, in 2001, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes. Two of the planes crashed into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center; a third crashed into the Pentagon. On the fourth, which was bound for Washington, D.C., passengers attempted to take control of the plane, and it ended up crashing near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Altogether, nearly 3,000 lives were lost — all the passengers and crew on board the planes, thousands of people who worked at the World Trade Center or were near the buildings, more than 100 in the Pentagon building, and hundreds of rescue workers.

On September 11, 2011, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “Ten years have passed since a perfect blue sky morning turned into the blackest of nights. Since then, we’ve lived in sunshine and in shadow, and although we can never unsee what happened here, we can also see that children who lost their parents have grown into young adults, grandchildren have been born, and good works and public service have taken root to honor those we loved and lost.”

In honor of that day, I share this poem from Charlotte Parsons entitled Nine-Eleven.

Nine-Eleven by Charlotte Parsons.

You passed me on the street

I rode the subway with you

You lived down the hall from me

I admired your dog in the park one morning

We waited in line for a concert

I ate with you in the cafes

You stood next to me at the bar

We huddled under an awning during a downpour

We dashed across the street to beat the light

I bumped into you coming round the corner

You stepped on my foot

I held the door for you

You helped me up when I slipped on the ice

I grabbed the last Sunday Times

You stole my cab

We waited forever at the bus stop

We sweated in steamy August

We hunched our shoulders against the sleet

We laughed at the movies

We groaned after the election

We sang in church

Tonight I lit a candle for you

All of you