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NYT reporter Dan Barry on 9/11, and messages written in dust

Commentary by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and columnist Dan Barry of The New York Times:


Twenty years on, the call to "Never Forget" still retains its power. The phrase can stir feelings of pain, guilt, even presumption, as if those of us who lived through it could ever forget. 

We have our 9/11 stories, our sometimes faulty memories, to share, or not to share, on the anniversary, or any day of the year.

We might tell our stories to hold back the eraser tip of time. Or, we might tell them to explain why we grow quiet when we hear Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising."

As a reporter who covered the World Trade Center attack and its aftermath, I remember many things.

The stillness whenever another body was recovered from the rubble.

The hum of the refrigerated trucks outside the morgue.

The acrid smell.

The funerals.

Mostly, I remember the dust.

I remember camping out with the National Guard in Battery Park. I remember the messages of grief, anger and faint hope scrawled in the dust that had settled on the surrounding buildings, scrawled with the tips of fingers:

"The Towers Will Rise Again"

"Vernon Cherry Call Home"

"God Be With You Dana - Love, Mom"

ground-zero-dust-a.jpg
Messages at Ground Zero. CBS News

I remember not wanting to think too hard about what was in the dust. I remember the dust being the color of vanilla, although my notes say it was gray. But I am certain of this: The dust was everywhere.

The world was covered in it.

      
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Story produced by Julie Kracov. Editor: Joseph Frandino. 

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