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Anniversary Memorializes Grief, Celebrates Resilience

If you're like most people, you remember that morning as though it were yesterday. First, the news that a plane hit the World Trade Center. Then, a second plane, and the flood of cognitive dissonance: a terrorist attack. In America?

Visitors view a model of the World Trade Center site on the opening day of the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site near the World Trade Center in New York City.
Getty Images
Visitors view a model of the World Trade Center site on the opening day of the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site near the World Trade Center in New York City.

And the next cascade — a third airplane crashing into the Pentagon, then a fourth in a Pennsylvania field. As the hours unfolded, the Twin Towers would crumble and nearly 3,000 people would die in New York, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.

Each year since Sept. 11, 2001, Americans have marked the anniversary with shared national grief, continuing outrage, and escalating safety worries.

As we contemplated how to tell the stories of the 10-year anniversary, we were mindful of what’s changed since then. We’re arguably a sadder and more anxious nation. We’re struggling through a painful recession, the second since 9/11. We’re more vigilant about security measures and more tolerant of privacy invasions designed to keep us safe.

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New York’s Financial District is a different place, too—reborn as a place to live and shop, not simply as a place to execute trades. Because of technological advances, the New York Stock Exchange is also changed, with far fewer people rushing in and out of the building at 11 Wall Street. Even the people of Middletown, N.J., who lost the greatest number of residents to the attacks of any town in America, have for the most part moved on, with some families of the victims choosing to leave, and those left behind creating a garden to memorialize their loved ones.

September 11: Ten Years Later - A CNBC Special Report
September 11: Ten Years Later - A CNBC Special Report

Of course, plenty hasn’t changed. We’re a resilient and basically optimistic people. Within a few years after the attacks, most of the original financial titans and big banks returned to Wall Street to resume business in what is still the world’s financial capital. What looked to be a nascent financial crisis precipitated by 9/11 didn’t happen, and the economy chugged along nicely for another seven years.

We’re also still a nation determined to heal. In the last decade, all around the country, Americans built some 700 memorials to those who died in the attacks. From New York to Pennsylvania to Washington, and from California to Georgia to North Dakota, loving tributes and declarations of bravery now dot the land.

Read our stories and slideshows of Wall Street and America 10 years after the attacks, and contemplate with us how the financial community and the nation have adjusted to a less private and more threatening world. We hope, especially, that you will view our slideshow of the 9/11 memorials, then send us photos of memorials in your town. We’ll post the best photos and descriptions in coming days and weeks.

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