September 11, 2001: Pausing to remember those who were lost

Twenty years later, we look back at a day we can’t forget.

If you’re age 30 or older, you probably remember what you were doing when you heard about the events of September 11, 2001. It’s one of those indelible, where-were-you moments, like the attack on Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy assassination for earlier generations.

This month, we commemorate the 20th anniversary of “9/11”—that instantly recognizable, vastly inadequate shorthand to describe a day that killed nearly 3,000 people and launched the longest war in modern U.S. history.

Two stories in this issue explore 9/11. One’s an on-the-ground report from Afghanistan. The other features still life photography of seemingly ordinary objects—a pair of boots, a watch, a snapshot—that aren’t ordinary at all. These objects, some never before displayed, came from the rubble of the World Trade Center in New York, a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Those were the sites where al Qaeda terrorists crashed hijacked planes, instantly creating a frightening new world.

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