That Day in September (a personal remembrance of 9/11) By Artie Van Why

That Day In September


From the Book:

I want it to go away, I don’t want it to have happened.

But it won’t, and it did, and I was there.

I wanted to catch that falling man with the flailing arms and legs.

But I couldn’t, and I didn’t, though I was there.

I wanted to be a hero, doing more than I humanly could.

But I wasn’t, and I didn’t.

I wanted to stay there, in the street, not afraid.

But I didn’t, and I was.

I wanted to be there through the end.

But I wasn’t.

I wanted to stay and rescue.

But I didn’t.

I wanted to be more injured, more dirty, more at risk.

But I wasn’t.

I want to imagine being buried, being missing, being gone.

But I can’t.

I want to know why I survived, and others didn’t.

But I don’t.

I want it never to have happened.

But it did.

Book Quotes:

“I don’t remember which came first, the shudder of the building or the loud sound. They probably came at the same time.”

“I fell in love with the World Trade Center my first week down there…I’d sit each morning on one of the stone-slab benches that were around the perimeter of the fountain at the World Trade Center with a copy of the newspaper I had picked. I would read my paper, drink my coffee, smoke a cigarette. I would watch the people passing me on their way to work.”

“Walking out onto the street the next morning was like walking into stillness. There were no cars on the streets, no horns blaring. Only the occasional wail of a siren haunted the quiet. I remember the weather being, as it was the day before, beautiful.”

“I believe God was in the hands of everyone who reached out to help someone else. He was in the arms of people on the streets as they embraced one another. He was in the tears of strangers who cried together. He was in all the lives that were given in the line of duty, in the acts of heroism. He was in the hearts of the people across the country who, as they watched the horror from afar, felt compassion.”

“…we stepped out onto Church Street, the street I had been on during most of the attack-the street where I had watched all those people fall to their deaths-the street I was on when the second plane hit-the street from which I had to run for my life.”

“I saw many people lose their lives that morning. In particular, I think of the many people I saw jump to their deaths. I think of their courage, knowing they were going to die. I think of that one moment in which they watch had to decide for themselves how their lives were going to end. They had to choose how to die. They took that leap.”

“And to honor those who are gone, I will not forget to live.”

About the Book:

We all have our stories to tell of where we were the morning of September 11, 2001. This is one of them. In “That Day In September” Artie Van Why gives an eyewitness account of that fateful morning. From the moment he heard “a loud boom” in his office across from the World Trade Center, to stepping out onto the street, Artie vividly transports the reader back to the day that changed our lives and our country forever. “That Day In September” takes you beyond the events of that morning. By sharing his thoughts, fears and hopes, Artie expresses what it was like to be in New York City in the weeks and months following. The reader comes away from “That Day In September” with not only a more intimate understanding of the events of that day but also with a personal glimpse of how one person’s life was dramatically changed forever.

The Author:

Image of Artie Van Why

Originally from Maryland, Artie Van Why moved to New York City in November of 1977 to pursue an acting career; albeit a slightly successful one.

Artie left show business in 1988 to enter the corporate world; as a word processor. He worked for the same law firm in midtown Manhattan for thirteen years. In June of 2001, his firm moved to other quarters downtown, across from the World Trade Center. Artie was at work the morning of September 11th, and witnessed the horror of that day from the streets.

He quit his job after three weeks of being back at his office’s building near what was now called Ground Zero. He began writing about his experience of that day and the days and weeks following, giving a vivid accounting of what it was like to be in New York City on that day in September, and afterwards. He sent some of his writings to friends and family via emails, and they, in turn, forwarded them to their friends and family. In a short period of time people across the country were reading Artie’s emails. He began receiving emails from people expressing their gratitude in being given a glimpse of what it was like to be in New York City during that time. He was encouraged to keep writing, and he did. Led by a personal conviction to tell his story of 9/11, Artie returned to his theatrical beginnings and began adapting his writings into a script. Laboring over draft after draft, Artie wanted to create a work he could share with people across the country.

During this time, he met famed actor, Richard Masur, through a mutual friend. Richard had done weeks of volunteer work at Ground Zero during the weeks of rescue and recovery. With Richard’s help, Artie put the final touches on the script and produced a staged reading of what was now a one man play called “That Day in September” in New York City. The reading was a success, a sold out evening. With Richard now involved as director, the first mounted production of “That Day In September” premiered on the campus of California Lutheran University, in Thousand Oaks, California, shortly after the one year anniversary of September 11th. The play then moved to the Celebration Theater in Los Angeles, where it opened to critical acclaim.

Back in New York, Artie mounted a workshop production of “That Day In September,” in preparation for a New York run. In August of 2003 “That Day in September” opened Off Broadway for a limited run.

After the New York production, in September of 2003, Artie moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he now resides.

Still compelled to tell his story of 9/11, Artie shared his experience of that day for churches, civic groups and as the key speaker in a series of conferences on PTSD for Drexel University.

The response garnered from those speaking opportunities encouraged Artie to do whatever he could to preserve the memory of 9/11 in people’s minds. To that end he self-published “That Day In September” as a book adaptation in 2006.

My Thoughts:

I felt it was imperative to open this review with the quote from the book rather than the “About the Book” that I normally begin with. I think the author did an outstanding job of putting into words what many of us were thinking that day. I also changed “My Review” to “My Thoughts” as my mind couldn’t wrap itself around the word review after reading this book.

As the author stated, we all have our stories to tell about where we were the morning of September 11, 2001. I know, in my own life (in South Louisiana), I had great hopes that morning, dreams of a relationship on the verge of being re-established. And, as the towers plunged to the ground, so did my own hopes.

I wasn’t in New York that fateful day, but I do have family that live just outside the city. For several days, I had no idea if they were involved in the pandemonium that had become Ground Zero. I had never even looked at a map of the city. My daughter and son-in-law now live in New York City. My daughter teaches at a wonderful little school in Times Square and my son-in-law teaches at a school on Wall Street. This tragedy is never far from my thoughts.

Now, having visited New York, and being familiar with where the towers once stood, I was able to visualize Artie’s thoughts and actions that morning much more vividly. I remembered street signs as he wrote about running up one street and down the other. I know of the downtown he spoke of, and the midtown where he walked with countless others. I understood his need to help others, yet feeling helpless. I walked, and ran in his shoes, as I read his words. I also understand how the brain can only take in a certain amount of tragedy before it shuts down.

“The sphere that sat atop the fountain in the plaza was amazingly found in all the rubble, though in pieces. It was lovingly put back together by the workers at the site and now stands in Battery Park; once again whole, though dented and damaged, but standing strong. Much like our city.”

I have been to Battery Park and I have stood before the sphere, myself whole, but dented and damaged from life, not at all unlike Artie. “That day in September” is a book of healing. Artie’s book is not a book to read and then add to the bookshelf. It is a book that begs to be passed from hand to hand so that all of us can know what the people who were there in the midst of the chaos felt and still struggle with. It is a book of remembrance for a tragedy that we, as Americans, should never forget.

I would like for you to comment and share your thoughts as you think back on where you were and what you were doing on 9/11 when the towers came tumbling down. Thank you.

Commercial for That Day In September:


Well, I have great news for everyone! The author, Artie Van Why, has graciously offered two books for our giveaway.

This is open INTERNATIONALLY, so everyone can have a chance! The international winner (should this apply) will receive an e-book version. 

All you have to do is follow this blog publicly and give your comments down below! Please include a valid email address so I can contact you. The giveaway will close on August 26, 2011 and the winners will receive an email on August 27, 2011.

 Tweets about this give away are greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance for Tweeting!

Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation – monetary or in kind – has been obtained for this post. Cover art and book description courtesy of the author, publisher, or PR firm.