The Keepsakes of a National Tragedy

Image credit: Tony Cenicola/The New York Times


The memories of those who witnessed the 9-11 attacks were vividly described in a recent article published in the New York Times.

On that day, many citizens saved the simplest items to connect with what had occurred. One man pulls a business-size envelope from his pocket and scoops some of the gray powder that fell from the sky after the first tower fell; another saved the shreds of T-shirt material that were used to filter the dust- filled air. The face masks, Mass cards, children’s drawings, a part a Peace Corps application – all small pieces of paper that fell from the sky across the East River, and pieces of lives lost.

For some these items became sacred relics.  They are tangible possessions that link to a national tragedy and provide solace for the owner.  I encourage you to read the entire piece. It is beautifully told.

The New York Times story speaks to our national story, and our need to feel connected to our fellow citizens.  It speaks to the power of ordinary and commonplace items to connect us to our past.

When you were a teenager did you ever save the corsage that your date placed on your wrist? Or maybe you saved the home run ball from the first major league game you ever attended?

The memories that swirl around these ordinary possessions make us treasure them.  The corsage might recall a first date, first dance or a first kiss. The scarred baseball brings back memories of a much-anticipated outing with dad, eating hot peanuts out of a brown paper bag and becoming hoarse while cheering a favorite team. These are the memories we hold dear.

What possessions do you cling on to?   As you hold that item, what part of your life are you remembering?

Your life is your story in the making. Preserve the memories.