when the walls fell
about this site
We have recently lived through a unique time in American history: a violent terrorist attack on our homeland that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Americans and the destruction of two of the most potent symbols of our economic and military power. For most of us, the wounds have healed to the point where we can talk about these events somewhat rationally, even though the scars will be there forever. We will never be at a large public gathering, such as the Olympics, a college basketball game, or the Times Square new year celebration, without that nagging fear in the back of our minds that we could be sitting at ground zero for the next terrorist attack on America.

Volumes of commentary about the attacks and their aftermath have been written by professional journalists and writers who are part of the East Coast media culture, and so this project has been expressly designed to provide a contrast to of the carefully prepared responses fed to us by the corporate media machines that have increasingly little to say that is genuine, honest, unbiased, or interesting. Each contributor brought a distinct perspective that, when taken in combination with all the other essays, became a small part of a larger collage of impressions and thoughts, a time capsule that captured the 9.11 experiences of a broad spectrum of Americans.

The title "When the Walls Fell" refers not just to the physical collapse of the structures that were the targets of the terrorist attacks, but also to the mental and political barriers of safety and security that we as Americans had thought were impregnable before 9.11. In addition, the destruction of our belief that we could never and would never be attacked in this way on our home soil led to a voluntary lowering of emotional defenses that had been battered by the grief and anger that most of us felt in the days following the attacks; in order to cope, we had to let down our guards and open ourselves up to our friends and family.

The only request I made of the contributors to this project was that they begin their essay with a recounting of their personal experiences on 9.11, answering the question implicitly asked in the title of the project: Where were you when the walls fell? After meeting that initial goal, each writer was free to expand the essay to include his or her reaction over the next several months as the nation went to war and we as a society worked on integrating 9.11 into the fabric of our cultural history.

Each Monday we will post a new essay until everyone has had a chance to speak, so the project should wrap up sometime close to the first anniversary of the attacks. After that, current plans call for this site to remain as a memorial to the victims of the attacks, but depending on the response and reactions of the readers, it could grow into almost anything. So if you have any suggestions for the site, please send an email to webmaster@whenthewallsfell.com.

P.S. - All the writings on this site are wholly owned by the people who wrote them. Feel free to link to any page on this site—you don't need my permission (that's what the internet's all about, after all). But if you do link to us, we would appreciate it if you would drop us a line just to let us know.

If you would like to reprint any of this material in whole or in part, in print or online, please email us so we can discuss it.

copyright © 2002 when the walls fell webmaster@whenthewallsfell.com