Sunday, September 11, 2011

Author Artie Van Why On The 10th Anniversary of 9/11

Today is the 10th anniversary of a devastating tragedy that has forever changed the lives of millions and the way of life we once knew in the US. My special guest today is Artie Van Why, author of THAT DAY IN SEPTEMBER which chronicles his personal experience of 9/11. He worked across from the World Trade Center and was there in the streets that morning.
Artie is here to share his thoughts on the days leading up to this anniversary.
My emotions have been all over the map these past weeks as the anniversary gets closer. I'm very aware of the unwarranted pressure I have put on myself in regard to how I personally observe that day. Try as I might, there's really nothing I can do that would be enough in my mind's eye. So I've tried to do what I can; when I can. I have done a number of interviews (for newspaper, radio and TV) which I'm grateful for. It still, to this day, means so much to me to be able to tell my story. I spoke to the whole student body of a high school here in Lancaster, PA on Sept 9.
In spite of these opportunities I have felt strongly about being able to do something significant on the anniversary itself. For me, that means being able to witness to the memory of that day. It means sharing what the struggle has been like in the years since 9/11. I guess you could compare it to a eulogy. I just feel the need to acknowledge the day, and my place in it, publicly. Not for the attention, or to make it about me.... although I guess there's a selfish element since doing it would cause me to feel better. But when I try to think of what I can possibly do to honor the memory of those who died, my words are all I have to offer.
Front_CoverI'm grateful that my play, from which my book is adapted (also titled That Day In September), was performed on Saturday, Sept. 9, as a benefit for the WTC Survivors Network (an organization that has been very helpful to me). I participated in a talkback afterwards, along with the actor who played me. But that still leaves me with the need to speak on the actual anniversary. I don't know how to convey the importance of that to me.
And now that the anniversary is approaching, it seems everyone wants to talk about it. I have very mixed emotions about this. On the one hand, I'm grateful for the nationwide recognition of the day but on the other hand it angers me that it takes an anniversary for people to show interest. I understand that... but I also know that, come Monday, Sept. 12, no one will be asking me to tell my story as they have now. It's as if people will say "okay, that over. Now let's move on." I'm certainly all about moving on. But moving on doesn’t mean forgetting. I won't "forget" 9/11 like the majority of people will after the anniversary. Or rather I'll say they won't be consciously aware of it as I (and other survivors) am. There is not a day that goes by where I don't think of 9/11. I know there will never be enough tears to cry over the horrors I witnessed that day.
I’m fortunate in that I will be able to speak at a memorial ceremony that is taking place here in Lancaster on the anniversary. I will be able to deliver my "eulogy." In spite of having my book that people can read; or my play that people can see; there is still the need to talk about that day and my experience of it. Each time I’m able to do that I feel as if I’ve honored the memory of all those who died. It is, for me, a lying of flowers on their collective gravesites. I’m grateful I’ll be able to do that on this anniversary. It is my way of saying “I have not forgotten.”

Artie, thank you for sharing your story with us here today. We must not forgot, but hopefully be able to heal somewhat and continue for those who can’t.

Let me share a bit of background on Artie. Two months after that fateful day, he quit his job of 13 years and spent the next two years developing a one man theater piece (also entitled That Day In September). He performed this in LA and Off Broadway in New York. He moved to Lancaster, PA in 2003 to be closer to his retired parents. That move was a direct result of having lived through 9/11 as family became very important to him. Once in Lancaster, Artie adapted the script and published THAT DAY IN SEPTEMBER as a book in 2006.  

Artie’s experience of 9/11, and how it has affected his life in the years following, is featured on the website of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to commemorate the 10th anniversary. The story behind the writing and publishing of his book is included, as well as a video of Artie talking about 9/11 and events that have followed for him. He was also interviewed for That Marketplace on NPR.

For more on Artie and his writing, you can find him on Facebook at THAT DAY IN SEPEMBER is available at Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes & Noble  

Here is a book trailer for THAT DAY IN SEPTEMBER.

Do you have memories of 9/11 you would like to share? Thank you for stopping by today. God Bless America, may we continue to grow stronger each day. 


  1. Artie, thank you for sharing your story with us. May the kindness of those around you give you strength during this most difficult day.

  2. There are simply not enough words to express my sorrow. 9/11 was not just an attack on American but on all of us who live in the civilized world. Even though I reside in New Zealand, the haunting images of the World Trade Center are still fresh in my mind. I will never forget that day.

    Thank you, Artie, for sharing your story.

    May we all live in peace someday.

  3. Today is my Mother's birthday. So that is another reason to remember where I was and what I was doing on Sept. 11, when I forgot to callher about her birthday.

  4. Mason - Thanks for hosting Artie.

    Artie - Thank you so much for sharing your story of September 11. That day changed so many lives... We need to go on and keep healing, and your story will, I am sure, help in that process.

  5. September 11 has affected us all in various ways, even if we were not anywhere near NY when it happened. I still recall what I was doing that day and how everything I planned was up in the air.

    Of course we also remember every time we fly anywhere, between the security at the airport and just the flying experience itself.

    Thanks for sharing, Mason, and for visiting my blog.

    I wrote my post last night and hadn't included my 9/11 memories and a book I wanted to mention...I added them today. So if you want to visit's MY SUNDAY SALON POST and

  6. 9-11 was a day of loss for America and the world.

    Artie, your books sounds wonderful. Good luck with it.

    Mason, thanks.

  7. Artie thank you so much.

    I agree with you that people need to remember EVERY DAY

    Not just on the anniversary


    I need/want to read your book

  8. Artie, thank you for sharing your story.

  9. You have done a great service for those who perished.

  10. Artie - Your experiences on 9/11 have become a significant part of who you are and what you do. I can understand that. But please do not think badly of those of us who can't hold that day at the center of our lives. Forget? Of course not. We must never forget. But I cannot dwell each day on the tragedies I have seen in my life - either great national tragedies or my own personal ones. To do so would destroy my joy. I think we need to hang on to our joy, too. I hope you can find yours.

  11. Hi Mason and Artie .. I'm sure your book will stand many in good stead for a variety of reasons .. the horror of loss, those fears of those left behind here on this mortal planet.

    I will read your book and I will look at the BBC film - at some stage .. I'm just glad Mason posted about it for us ..

    Thank you so much - Hilary


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.