In Remembrance

Five years ago today, I boarded a flight from Paris to San Jose. I was returning to my apartment in California after spending some time with my family and friends in France.

Little did we passengers know what horrifying events were taking place as we were flying over the Atlantic. Mid-flight, we were told that there had been terrorist threats against the US — a gross understatement, presumably to avoid panic attacks –, that all American airports were closing down, and that our plane was diverted to Calgary, Canada.

Stranded in Calgary for a few days, feeling cold and lonely with my heart in my throat, I had plenty of time to watch in disbelief as the same images appeared on television, again and again. Plenty of time to reflect on what had happened, but not nearly enough to make sense of it. Even five years haven’t been enough, really.

I won’t add to the chorus of political analysis of this gruesome day and its world-changing consequences, but I did want to say that I am right there in the ranks of those who remember.

  • Joan

    Clotilde, as tears appear…I send a kiss to our home, the Earth, and wish it well…hugs

  • Jerrick Lim


    All that needs to be said.

  • David

    There is no sense to it Clothilde.

  • That was eloquently said, Clothilde.

  • Erin

    I remember holding it together as my co-workers fell apart. I remember the customer who fell to his knees as he recieved word, his brother was a first responder. I remember my Dad stranded in Alberta. I remember the fear of being unable to reach my mom, who works in the tallest building in the city. I remember sitting on the edge of my seat weeks after, unable to relax. I remember the despair of a friend who three days later had yet to hear from his wife.

  • It changed the world forever. I was living here in France when it happened and felt very isolated. I spent alot of time on the phone with relatives. It is a hopeless feeling-not being able to do anything but remember.

  • 5 years already and it feels like yesterday… you description feels familiar, I also spend a day waiting at an airport that day.

  • Thank you Clotilde.
    Your words touch a deep chord. I stood on my roof that day and watched two of my most favorite buildings go down. I couldn’t believe it then and I still can’t…

  • Neil

    God bless, Clotilde. What happen in NYC on 9/11/01 affected the entire world not just the United States. That this rememberance extends outside of the United States speaks wonders to the unity of this small world we live in.

  • bethany

    Well said Clotilde. It doesn’t need to be politicized. It just needs to be remembered!

  • Robyn

    I remember my husband so grieved he couldn’t speak. I remember being unable even to cry for days. Thank you Clotilde. R

  • I remember being at the Pearl Harbor Memorial watching a movie about the attack on Pearl Harbor. One of the men who survived said that whenever he heard a plane fly overhead, he was filled with fear. I remember thinking that I couldn’t even imagine feeling like that – until 9/11. I live right outside of Boston. For several days there were no flights and I was no longer used to the sound of them flying. And I had never really noticed before how when planes take off from Logan and when you see them as you are driving into the city from the Tobin Bridge, it looks like they are flying into the buildings. The first time I was driving into city after 9/11 I heard a plane and then saw it taking off, I was so scared that it was going to crash into a building. My heart was racing and I was afraid I was going to have a car accident. It took a while to get used to the planes again.

  • I remember. We must always remember.

  • The best way to honor the people that were lost is to remember them…believe me, we appreciate it.

  • Anna

    Thank you, Clotilde, for giving us a place to remember without getting into political discussions.

    I wrote these lines five years ago after seeing images of hundreds of candles in the parks of New York, glowing in the dark as mourners gathered near:

    Taller than two flaming towers
    are countless burning candles
    that will not be drowned by tears.

  • Griffin


    Exactly what you said. It was not an American tragedy, but an atrocity against humanity. …and the dead still live in us as long as we remember them.

  • Barbara

    The United States is not immuned from violence. Let us not forget the atrocities that happen around the world everyday.

  • As I struggled through the day, I thought about posting something…and didn’t.
    Your post says it all with quiet eloquence…and yes, we must remember.

  • Every memory is another hand, reaching out to clasp others, to hold on tight to our shared humanity. It is through the sharing of our memories that we can connect to what happened and connect to one another and, hopefully, through our connection we will find a way through this darkness. We cannot defeat the terror with violence, with threats, with guns, with death. We can only defeat it with love.

    Thank you!

  • Debby

    New York is the city of my birth. This past Sept 11th,the sky was that same amazing blue……And I live in DC, the other wounded city. For months thereafter in 2001, the navy planes flew low overhead, all night, in circles. It was more like a keening than a droning.

  • soulshine

    Wow, beautifully stated. And thanks for sharing your story with us.

  • Hi Clotilde,
    the day before I was coming back to Italy and leaving my boyfriend, an air pilot, working in New York. I had terrible moments, after one day I discovered he was safe, but other people…
    I’ll never forget this day: my life has changed, our life has changed.
    Beautiful post.

  • cvf

    Yours makes an interesting (well, to me) juxtaposition to my experience. My wife and I, both Americans, were in transit from Montpellier to Paris when the attacks happened, then stranded in Paris for five days trying to get home to our friends, family, and young son. We both fell in love with Paris and France during that stay, and moved here about six months ago with our (now) two boys. Funny how it works, eh?

  • Ahh, so eloquently written…

  • The memory is like a flavor that has been added to our lives. Your words bring the memory back, you captured the taste of how our hearts were that day….

  • Toos

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I love you for it.

  • Wow, think for you it was even more impressing. I was just going to work when I heard about it. I’m sure this day will be unforgettable!!!

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