Someone pressed ‘play’ on the thunder audio effects tonight and let it run like a soundtrack for more than half an hour. The strobe lightening was running, too, making everyone in house look like they were moving with a slow-motion stutter as they hurried to shut off computers and air conditioners. I opened the window and tried to make a movie.

Today, New York released thousands of first hand stories from emergency officials who were on duty in the city on September 11th. Fears, heroics, serendipities, calamities. In the past four years, I’ve heard people from scattered geographical locations tactfully, and not so tactfully, argue with one another about who September 11th affected the most. I have even wondered whether I would have been as scared and shaken as I was on that day if I had grown up in another part of the country, some place where I didn’t feel so close to New York that I expected to see blazing smoke rising over my own backyard. It is clear today that the men and women who told these stories, who are all a part of these stories, lived a September 11th that no one else will ever know. They are the survivors. But now, under a file number and a name, we can read and remember and reach for understanding.