The Six-Word Memoir Blog

Six Words for September 11

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

By Larry Smith

In recognition of the tenth anniversary of September 11th, SMITH Magazine and PBS’s weekly newsmagazine program, Need To Know, are seeking Six-Word Memoirs of people who were directly impacted by the events of 9/11. After reading the stories the stories that come in, a selection of these Six-Word Memoirs will then be turned into a special segment on the September 9 Need To Know. The memoirs could be a tribute to a life lost, a portrayal of lives forever transformed, a description of the healing process, an account of the events of September 11, 2001, or any other experience that the participants would like to share. Anyone who would like to participate should do so in the comments area of this post by August 22.*

Last fall, SMITH and Need To Know teamed up to create a segment featuring the stories of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars based on their Six-Word Memoirs (watch it on the PBS site, and read more veterans’ memoirs on SMITH). The memoirs, and accompany backstories, were extremely moving and gave viewers a unique window into the experience of our nation’s soldiers. We suspect “Six-Word Memoirs for September 11” will offer a similarly powerful and meaningful experience. Watch it below.

* Two notes. 1) if you share a Six-Word Memoir on September 11, we still won’t broadcast it on TV without your permission. 2) If your memoir is selected for the show, and you like the notion of opening up the story more, “Need To Know” producers would then conduct a brief audio interview so that they could then put their memoir in context. Ideally participants would provide video to use with their interview.

235 responses

  1. knoxena says:

    Twin Towers, Airplanes Crashing, Son’s Army Induction!

  2. mary jane bilyk says:

    911. A reminder of freedom’s price.

  3. mary jane bilyk says:

    Pure Evil. Terrifying. Shocking. Memories Linger.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Friends ran over the Brooklyn Bridge

  5. mary jane bilyk says:

    Son guards our borders. Miss him.

  6. lisa Bottone says:

    friends ran over the Brooklyn Bridge

  7. lisa Bottone says:

    Circled Labyrinth at Trinity, found peace

  8. mary jane bilyk says:

    911. Description of Hell. Never forget.

  9. lisa Bottone says:

    Kept students calm, I cried inside

  10. lisa Bottone says:

    Lost our towers, rights, and hope

  11. lisa Bottone says:

    Confused by Principal’s instruction: “Don’t move!”

  12. lisa Bottone says:

    Loved my city even more that day.

  13. mary jane bilyk says:

    I still ask WHY? Question unanswered.

  14. mary jane bilyk says:

    Husband. Retired PA police. He cried.

  15. mary jane bilyk says:

    Goverment’s delay brought devastation that day.

  16. mary jane bilyk says:

    Towers slide. Screamed! Dear God Nooooooo….!

  17. MozMan says:

    So far away, I felt helpless.

  18. Believe says:

    Holding my infant. Watching towers fall.

  19. bmoredawn says:

    Stunning, heart wrenching, resolved new worldview.

  20. mary jane bilyk says:

    Indescribable heartbreak. 911 brings back memories.

  21. LadyVoodoo says:

    School cancelled. Skies quiet. Souls lost.

  22. LadyVoodoo says:

    Watched the sky. No longer safe.

  23. Alex says:

    It is just a small plane.

  24. Level1 says:

    The sky was so very blue.

  25. mary jane bilyk says:

    To our Police/Firemen. Thank You.

  26. three8four says:

    Awoke. Hazy. Saw. Destruction. Unbelievable. Reality.

  27. three-monkeys says:

    Drove by Pentagon. Minutes later, chaos.

  28. three-monkeys says:

    Heard fighter jets. Feared hijacked planes.

  29. three-monkeys says:

    Arlington. Armed soldiers on every corner.

  30. lisa Bottone says:

    Didn’t forgive then, can’t forget now

  31. mary jane says:

    Unexpected act of war. Healing slow.

  32. Mama Bee says:

    NYSkyline: Silent Tribute in Negative Space

  33. Katie says:

    Home from school. Televison on. Jumpers.

  34. Katie says:

    Home from school. Television on. Jumpers

  35. Kaytee says:

    Dianne: Flight 11; Pete:105th Floor

  36. Kaytee says:

    Grew Up frieds, Died in towers

  37. lisa Bottone says:

    People’s ashes silently and slowly landed

  38. lisa Bottone says:

    Twisted metal erected as makeshift altars

  39. lisa Bottone says:

    Young sons donated pennies for firefighters

  40. lisa Bottone says:

    Left every meeting saying “stay safe”

  41. lisa Bottone says:

    Trillons on defense, were still defenseless

  42. lisa Bottone says:

    Administrator wanted classes “resumed to normal”

  43. lisa Bottone says:

    Kept my salon appointment, September 12th

  44. mary jane says:

    Wanted 10 minutes alone with BinLaden!

  45. Bree says:

    We lost lives but gained ignorance.

  46. Bree says:

    Sam; born muslim, died american. R.I.P

  47. Kaytee says:

    Confused silence erupted in dismayed horror

  48. Kaytee says:

    Impish soldiers with AK’s in subways

  49. lisa Bottone says:

    Osama’s last vision, Americans with guns

  50. lisa Bottone says:

    The lights went down on Broadway

  51. lisa Bottone says:

    Missing posters, last shred of hope

  52. lisa Bottone says:

    Student designed an Osamanator finder machine

  53. lisa Bottone says:

    left pregnant wife and autistic son

  54. lisa Bottone says:

    Found his name on the memorial

  55. lisa Bottone says:

    In some ways, the terrorists won

  56. lisa Bottone says:

    Turned off TV, started to vomit

  57. lisa Bottone says:

    Gladly would have shot Obama myself

  58. lisa Bottone says:

    Anger hasn’t resolved, probably never will

  59. lisa Bottone says:

    oh lord….correction Osama

  60. thehealinggame says:

    Cleansing rain? Touch gutter’s gray water.

  61. Anonymous says:

    Birthday bash 9/10. Confused next morning.

  62. LadyVoodoo says:

    Why weren’t we prepared for this?

  63. mary jane says:

    Terrorist walked freely in smug righteousness.

  64. mary jane says:

    Grandmother now. I’m searched in airports.

  65. mary jane says:

    It took long to “get” BinLaden.

  66. lisa Bottone says:

    Why did Bush just keep reading?

  67. lisa Bottone says:

    Claimed Clinton could have stopped it.

  68. lisa Bottone says:

    Sent out to find the WMDs

  69. lisa Bottone says:

    Safe and secure removed from vocabualry

  70. mary jane says:

    Aftermath: quiet shock. Lives forever changed.

  71. mary jane says:

    Sitting and contemplating. Sadness still lingers.

  72. lisa Bottone says:

    Ground zero, no place for Mosque

  73. lisa Bottone says:

    Ground zero, millions of unmarked graves

  74. lisa Bottone says:

    Dead are buried where they build

  75. mary jane says:

    NYC rose and met challenge. Triumph!

  76. lonewolf6402 says:

    Death screamed from the sky: Devastating.

  77. lonewolf6402 says:

    Murder is repugnant not Islamic faith

  78. lonewolf6402 says:

    Still suffering pain of unfinished lives.

  79. lisa bottone says:

    Jumper images loop in my mind

  80. lisa bottone says:

    Gravestones in Trinity covered in ash

  81. lisa bottone says:

    Ash looked like snow, felt wet

  82. lisa bottone says:

    Inhaled death and destruction: exhaled anger

  83. lisa bottone says:

    Where was G-d? He didn’t show.

  84. JJ says:

    One moment changed the world forever

  85. satcong says:

    I lost my wife that day.

  86. shellyh says:

    Eating breakfast, all hell broke loose.

  87. shellyh says:

    What is this? A movie trailer?

  88. Salvatore Buttaci says:

    This smiling photo and nothing else.

  89. Salvatore Buttaci says:

    Terror has become the new buzzword.

  90. shellyh says:

    News anchors even lost for words.

  91. Salvatore Buttaci says:

    Twin towers: a stairway to Heaven.

  92. shellyh says:

    In the Midwest, still felt close.

  93. Salvatore Buttaci says:

    When those towers fell, Allah wept.

  94. Salvatore Buttaci says:

    White ash made us all one.

  95. Aerie says:

    My kids still feel impact today.

  96. Salvatore Buttaci says:

    The true test: forgiving our enemies.

  97. Salvatore Buttaci says:

    A fall we can never forget.

  98. junonia90 says:

    Of course the terrorists won: Iraq

  99. Annulla says:

    Strangers saved my life.



  100. Brian Collins says:

    We may forget 9/11; I can’t

  101. Kate Dunn says:

    Against orders, teacher left TV on.

  102. Kate Dunn says:

    Shell shocked memories, even in Texas.

  103. janewanttowrite says:

    Lost two colleagues. Tower and airplane.

  104. janewanttowrite says:

    The world would never be the same.

  105. Johanna Swift says:

    Crashed?! Oh god, heroes were aboard.

  106. Johanna Swift says:

    Who? Rick? That’s just so WRONG!

  107. Johanna Swift says:

    It’s no accident — we’re being attacked.

  108. Johanna Swift says:

    Blue skies. CNN. Disbelief, tears, hugs.

  109. Johanna Swift says:

    Overwhelming patriotism until Big Brother arrives.

  110. Tamara Elizabeth says:

    Parent’s plane left early, now alive

  111. suz carter says:

    This can’t be real. Please?

  112. Johanna Swift says:

    Please stay home! Maybe California’s next!

  113. William Presler says:

    never forget, never forgive, let’s roll

  114. Carol Belding says:

    Late for WTC meeting, life saved.

  115. Tess Alfonsin says:

    held my newborn while world explodes

  116. teddy says:

    friends killed; later plane; I lived.

  117. teddy says:

    ten more years mine, not theirs.

  118. teddy says:

    they should not have died that way

  119. teddy says:

    they should not have died at all

  120. MakBeth19 says:

    Jealous terrorists try to eliminate capitalism

  121. SeaClearly says:

    WTC 7: Not Hit by Plane

  122. kpowers says:

    Ten Years Later….Heart Still Breaks

  123. tetylernj says:

    Crossing the highway, no more radio

  124. Claudia says:

    World was never the same again

  125. Mary Crescenzo says:

    Names read: Alphabet of the Dead

  126. mary jane says:

    911. Made me value familly more.

  127. mary jane says:

    Can’t listen to “Wind beneath my wings”.

  128. Lexieloo says:

    My brother was on another plane …

  129. Lexieloo says:

    Brother: United pilot: on another plane …

  130. lisa Bottone says:

    I’ll never be the same again

  131. lisa Bottone says:

    Streets feel quiet, still, time froze

  132. Maryjbelle says:

    Our world changed forever that day.

  133. Charles says:

    The hellish choice: flames, or sidewalk?

  134. Charles says:

    Men reduced to ash, awaiting rising.

  135. Hell’s Kitchen Baby says:

    Everyone stopped–watching–hand over mouth.

  136. Hell’s Kitchen Baby says:

    David had tickets for Hot Tuna.

  137. Hell’s Kitchen Baby says:

    Two AA buddies died that day.

  138. Joe Allen says:

    Trillion Dollar Defense vs. A Boxcutter.

  139. Hell’s Kitchen Baby says:

    Debbie’s throat slit; husband upstairs screaming.

  140. Hell’s Kitchen Baby says:

    Firehouse shocked; I brought them cookies.

  141. Hell’s Kitchen Baby says:

    Gray ghosts walk up 8th Avenue.

  142. Tommy the Kid says:

    “its raining me” assumed an unintended poignancy.

  143. Tommy the Kid says:

    “its raining men” assumed unintended poignancy.

  144. Sari Botton says:

    Grave despair made me cling to a fling.

  145. Sari Botton says:

    Made me cling to a fling. (Sorry - last one was 8 words. Sinus infection making me stupid.)

  146. JohnEli says:

    No longer will we feel secure.

  147. Isabel says:

    Towers fell. Sun, dust, shoes, sirens.

  148. Isabel says:

    Long walk from WTC to UWS.

  149. Isabel says:

    Will always remember that sunny morning.

  150. CathleenRitt says:

    I cried only when Dad called

  151. spitfire690 says:

    Planes hit. Our lives changed forever.

  152. Gina Grey Allen says:

    Tragic for all; now we war.

  153. Craig says:

    My birthday now day of infamy.

  154. Stephanie Rogers says:

    Pronounce my friend’s name correctly please.

  155. Stephanie Rogers says:

    Souvenir vendors’ sales make fresh wounds.

  156. mary jane says:

    Faces blackened with soot. Shock. Anguish.

  157. mary jane says:

    I knew war would beckon sons.

  158. Johannask says:

    st. paul’s, weeks later, smoke rising.

  159. Johannask says:

    Christmas Night, Ground Zero. Strangers hug.

  160. 6 Words About 9-11 | The Crooked Mystic says:

    [...] Visit SMITH’s 9-11 page HERE. [...]

  161. NYGUY says:

    Beautiful Blue Sky; Death By Allah.

  162. NYGUY says:

    Thousands of lost souls; for what?

  163. NYGUY says:

    We were all NYC’ers that day.

  164. NYGUY says:

    TSA BS shows they have won.

  165. NYGUY says:

    NYC: Best place in whole world.

  166. NYGUY says:

    Never forget: “Let’s roll” when needed.

  167. Donna Lethal says:

    Watching it fall from Sixth Avenue.

  168. mary jane says:

    Life can change in one second.

  169. mary jane says:

    Looking back, sky was incrediably blue.

  170. mary jane says:

    I still think about the victims.

  171. mary jane says:

    Through blood, smoke, and tears ….Hope!

  172. mary jane says:

    Forgive our enemies? Not so much.

  173. mary jane says:

    911. We let down our guard.

  174. mary jane says:

    We got too comfortable. Evil lurked!

  175. mary jane says:

    Just stared at TV…and stared.

  176. TB Pasquale says:

    Mom’s at Pentagon; brother’s in Jersey City.

  177. RitaWrites says:

    Many lives lost; many lives saved.

  178. RitaWrites says:

    Travelling cross country, no one spoke.

  179. RitaWrites says:

    Airplanes were grounded; skies were silent.

  180. Believe says:

    9/11/2001. They rolled. 5/1/2011. They rocked.

  181. Tracie says:

    Seemed fake, changed the channel. Devastation!

  182. Kalli says:

    Ten years old. Cried for terrorists.

  183. justpaul says:

    Dad rests in Arlington’s hallowed grounds.

  184. mary jane says:

    Land of Free. Home of Brave.

  185. mary jane says:

    Beautiful towers down. Hearts are broken.

  186. mary jane says:

    Gorgeous skyline changed forever. Also lives.

  187. jeff m says:

    strumming zither strings for souls ascending

  188. jeff m says:

    son strums zither for souls ascending

  189. jeff m says:

    9/12 - healing hearts as stench descends

  190. Liesel says:

    Still seems unreal. It’s too much.

  191. mary jane says:

    911. Makes word “unprepared” sound understated.

  192. Sarah Marcos says:

    Was working. Then the clock stopped.

  193. AOC NETWORK says:

    Please watch this Fox interview with 9/11 Memorial painter Todd Stone

  194. AOC NETWORK says:

    Lee Ielpi founded @TributeWTC to remember all 9/11 victims. See the responses to their stories in #911theworldspeaks

  195. AOC NETWORK says:

    Celebrate the lives of the victims, honor their families + share n wht they can teach - @tributewtc #911theworldspeaks

  196. AOC NETWORK says:

    Experience “Downtown Rising” as @ToddStoneStudio speaks with Bloomberg Radio on Downtown NYC paintings

  197. AOC NETWORK says:

    NPR’s sensitive interview with author Lee Ielpi about desire for peace around the world

  198. Joe Hicks says:

    Still cry, like it was yesterday

  199. Joe Hicks says:

    Fighting for tomorrow, remembering yesterday

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