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.