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What Would the Founding Fathers Think: A Young American's guide to understanding the mess our country is in and how we get out
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On Little Wings
We Lived in Heaven: Spiritual Accounts of Souls Coming to Earth
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A Woman's power: threads that bind us to god
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Targets in Ties
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With a Name like Love
Sean Griswold's head


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Monday, September 10, 2012

Guest Post: Artie Van Why, Author of, "That Day in September"




Book Description:

June 23, 2006
 
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.
 
You can purchase your copy of, "That Day in September" here.

 

I am honored to introduce you to Author Artie Van Why. In observance of the 11th anniversary of one of the worst attacks to take place on American soil, I asked Artie to post about his experience and how he is doing today. September 11th is a day every American will and should never forget.

Guest Post by Artie Van Why


I’ve been watching an HBO series called “The Newsroom”; a show centered on a fictional cable network and its flagship news show.  Each episode’s fictitious storylines revolve around a factual, significant news story of a specific day in the past few years.

On a recent episode, entitled “5/1”, the show’s continuous plotlines revolved around the major news story of May 1, 2011; the death of Osama bin Laden.

From the prospective of just a TV-viewer, it was riveting to watch what it must have been like in newsrooms across the country that day as the story we had all been waiting for had finally become a reality. But as someone who had witnessed, and survived, the 9/11 attack in New York City, it was difficult to watch.

The night bin Laden’s death was announced I was alone in my apartment in Lancaster, PA; far from the city that had been my home for 26 years. I can still remember feeling so isolated in the moments that followed the President’s address confirming bin Laden’s death. Watching the aerial shots on TV of people in New York gathering at Ground Zero made me long to be there with them. I had mourned with my fellow New Yorkers in the weeks and months following 9/11; experiencing a sense of connection unlike ever before. I imagined that the people of the city assembling where the twin towers had once stood were sensing a connection once again; hopefully of solace perhaps and a semblance of comfort.

I had nowhere to go in this city of Lancaster that was now my new home. People wouldn’t be gathering anywhere. And if I were to leave my apartment and walk the streets I would pass very few people; Lancaster not being an active city at night. And the people I would walk by would have no idea of just how significant this night was for me; as a 9/11 survivor. And though I had family and friends I could have phoned, I didn’t because I was unable to put together words that could remotely describe the emptiness of not knowing what I should be feeling.

But now it was 2012 and as I watched “The Newsroom” episode my thoughts quickly went from the night of 5/1/2011 to the morning of 9/11/2001. The images, memories, helplessness, pain and sorrow of that day when everything changed are always with me. Most of the time they are just in the recesses of my thoughts; no longer inhibiting me from my daily routines. Yet there is always an underlying anticipation that all those things can rush to the forefront of my thoughts as I relive that day. Sometimes they are triggered by something specific; other times by nothing at all. This time it was a television show.

And it’s not just the images I recall. It is also the emotions still so closely associated with those images; the terror and fear; the feeling of utter helplessness; the anguish; the sorrow.

I became aware that I was biting down on my knuckle while watching the TV; hoping that would prevent the tears falling down my face breaking into outright sobs. My partner was sitting in another chair, watching with me. If he was aware of what was going on with me he didn’t say anything. That’s not to fault him. He has held me many other times as I’ve cried over 9/11. But I’ve become all too aware of the awkwardness of others when I begin to talk of 9/11. I can sense a person’s unease of not knowing what to say or how to respond. Most people, I’ve found, are uncomfortable with someone else’s expressed grief. I understand that. So at times I’m more concerned about others’ than I am about myself. I say nothing.

Every 9/11 survivor I’ve communicated with shares the fact that there are people who think we should be “over it” by now; unable to understand why we haven’t “moved on.” I think I can say on behalf of many survivors that we will never be “over” it.  The memories of 9/11 are with us daily; some days just unobtrusively in the background, some days occupying every conscious thought.

And even though it has been eleven years now, as each anniversary approaches I am acutely aware of it. I feel on edge, easily irritated by the smallest insignificant things. The memories seem fresher; as if 9/11 had happened only yesterday. I cry more than usual. As if the anniversary of a family member’s death was near, the grief over the lost lives of people I didn’t even know is no less.

I have made progress in this mourning process. I may not have “moved on” but I am moving forward. I’ve only recently allowed myself to reenter living my life; accepting happiness when it comes my way. I’ve learned how to once again laugh. I’m able to feel hopeful about my life.

But I will never forget that day in September, back in 2001. And I will do what small part I can in assuring the generations to come will learn to always remember.


About the Author:
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.




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