The anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks has always been a difficult day for Atlanta native Caitlin Corsetti.
Her father used to work at the World Trade Center and lost many friends that day. Her cousin, FDNY Ladder Company 3 Lt. Kevin Donnelly, died while trying to rescue people from one of the crumbling towers.
“I had never known anyone who had died before,” she said. “Being that young, I was so confused.”
A sixth grader at the time, she also found that some of her classmates had trouble understanding why she took the disaster so hard, so personally. It took a long time for anxiety to subside – and to this day, it hasn’t completely.
“Having to deal with that at a young age definitely impacted me,” Corsetti said.
On Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of the attacks, Corsetti will observe the somber day in New York for the first time. A May graduate of the University of Alabama, she moved here for a job in marketing about a month ago.
“I was planning to stay in Atlanta,” she said. “I had made arrangements to move to Buckhead with a sorority sister.”
But when a dream job became available, she jumped at the chance, even if it means sleeping on a friend’s couch for a while and spending time in the city’s green spaces like Union Square Park (where she’s shown in the photo above) to make up for Atlanta’s comparatively wider open spaces.
Observing the anniversary of Sept. 11 as a newly minted New Yorker has her feeling a bit at odds.
“I would like to be down there,” she said of the Ground Zero site. “I haven’t decided yet. I may get up early and walk around the city. As much as you want to take the day, you have to go about your business.”
Atlanta native Melissa Smith moved to New York recently as well, but does not have a personal tie to the Sept. 11 attacks.
“Quite honestly, it will probably just be a normal workday for me,” said Smith, who also works in marketing.
Martin Mintz, another Atlantan in New York, also will be working as usual, but his day will focus on the anniversary to a degree. The 2011 graduate of Washington University just began his second year as an eighth grade history teacher through the Teach for America program. Like Corsetti, he was in sixth grade on Sept. 11, 2001. Today, the students he teaches are just a couple of years older than he was at the time.
“I want to use that day to honor the sacrifices, looking at those heroes who stood up and made a difference,” he said. “History is made by individuals.”
On that pre-Twitter day 11 years ago, Mintz didn’t learn what had happened until hours later.
“I remember hearing bits and pieces throughout the day. I had no idea it was a terrorist attack until I got home,” he recalled. “It was so much to wrap your head around. It was unimaginable.”
His students were toddlers at the time, and have grown up in a post 9-11 world, noted Mintz.
“It could be just a regular day for my students,” he said. “My goal is for it not to be.”