About our project
The personal stories of trauma and healing featured here, never-before-published, were written by witnesses, survivors, and others shortly after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and submitted to a web archive created in 2001 just after the attack.
What better to guide us now through our own trauma and healing from Covid-19 than the raw experience of others following a very different kind of attack that rocked our nation 20 years ago?
They are offered in the hope that we can learn from them now as we recover from the time of Covid-19: that they can point us—as individuals and as a nation—toward healing.
These stories are part of a larger web archive, The Severe Clear 9/11: 136 Untold Stories Project.
Severe Clear is an aviation term airline pilots use to describe a bright blue sky with seemingly unlimited visibility and air so pure it can blind a pilot. The sky of 9/11 was Severe Clear.
The archive was created by volunteers a few days after the attacks in 2001 as a venue for writing out stories as a tool for sharing, grieving and healing. It was not anticipated then that we would be receiving so many stories, nor the time it would take to properly screen and edit them, develop and maintain the website, contact writers, get permissions to publish. For eight months I gave up my day job and dedicated all my time to the stories and the strangers who sent them, touched by their despair, healing, vulnerability, kindness, self-reflection.
After eight months, we ran out of time and self-funding, stopped collecting stories, and took down the site. I returned to a paying job. Then life happened. I had a family, a child. Nearly twenty years went by. The stories moved with me three times in a big black plastic bin across two states. The power of their words followed along.
I’ve re-read them all again, and their poignancy and power seem to have grown despite the passing time. Or perhaps because of it.
The goal of The Severe Clear Project is to create a permanent online archive of all 136 eyewitness stories from 9/11, including stories and drawings by children, and make them easily accessible and free to all. Especially those born after 9/11 for whom the attack is ancient history, and to teachers.
Terri Brooks, Executive Director