Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Tribute: Portraits of Grief

Portraits: 9/11/01: The Collected "Portraits of Grief" from The New York Times
Remember the "Portraits of Grief" the New York Times published in the months after 9/11? The little stories about the individuals who perished that day that the NYT staffers put together after interviewing family members? For me, there is no better tribute to 9/11 than reading those brief portraits, collected in the big coffee table book Portraits: 9/11/01. We don't have a coffee table, but for years that book graced the top of the mantle in our living room until it found a permanent home in the middle of our big wall of books. Every anniversary of 9/11, I take down that book, open it randomly, and read a few portraits:

Shannon Fava - She Dances in His Heart
Ronald C. Fazio - Still a Family Man
Francis J. Feely - Friend of "The Far Side"

Today it struck me that long before the rise of Twitter, the NYT writers endeavoured to come up with a short line to capture each person's character. It is sad to have a life reduced to a sentence that is not even complete, and to 300 words in a big book. But at least that is there: The book, and the few minutes every year to remember those whom I did not know, who had their lives cut short in a tragedy none of us would have ever imagined.

There is a Yiddish saying: He who saves a life, saves the world. Consequently, those who destroy a life, destroy the world. Thousands of worlds were destroyed on 9/11. Portraits 9/11/01 is a small tribute to those worlds.


  1. What a lovely post Annette. You are right those snippets of 200-300 words are wonderful tributes.

  2. Thank you for this post- it was poignant and makes me want to get that book- but more than that it is a great reminder of what really happened on 9/11 and how it didn't just touch thousands of lives- it ripped through lives all over the world!

  3. The Desert Rocks, Anjuli - thanks for your comments, I am glad this resonated with you.