tнє ℓσνє σf ℓєαяnιng, tнє ѕєqυєѕtєяє∂ nσσкѕ αn∂ αℓℓ tнє ѕωєєt ѕєяєnιtу σf bσσкѕ. - нєηяу ωα∂ѕωσяtн ℓσngƒєℓℓσω
today 6/2/16 on aobibliosphere™ [aobibliospotlight™: A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart]

Thursday, September 8, 2011

handbills - that day in September : a guest post by Artie Van Why

That Day in September
I didn’t set out to write a book.  It started with a simple email.  The morning after 9/11, after waking from a fitful sleep, I listened to the messages on my answering machine and read all the emails that had been sent; everyone wanting to know if I was alright.  Knowing I could never answer each one individually, I sat at my computer to write a general email saying “I’m okay” that I planned on sending to everyone.

As I started typing I found myself describing what had happened the day before.  I wrote about what I had witnessed.  What I had felt.  What I was still feeling.  The words just seemed to come.  I’m sure that was one of the first steps I took towards beginning to process all I had been through.

I sent the email out and soon heard back from some of the recipients; thanking me for sharing what it had been like and encouraging me to keep writing.  I did.  I wrote about 3 other emails over the next few weeks; sending them out as well.  My emails were being forwarded to other people and I began to hear from people I didn’t even know; thanking me.

I quite my job of 13 years the November after 9/11 and, with much time on my hands, continued to write.  I found it a very cathartic release.  I could form in written words what my mind might have trouble putting together.  I felt no restrictions on what I put down because I didn’t think anyone else would ever read what I was writing.

By January of 2002 I had amassed quite a bit of printed sheets of paper.  One day, as I was walking the streets of Manhattan, I had the thought “I wonder if what I’ve written could become a play.”  I had recently met a well known character actor and I took all I had down on paper and asked if he’d read it and give me his opinion as to whether it could be a theater piece.  He called me that evening and said “yes” he did think it could be a powerful piece and that he would like to direct it.  Thus, the one man show, That Day In September, took shape.  I ultimately performed the play in LA and Off Broadway in New York. 

Once the play ended; and I had moved to Lancaster, PA I felt the need to continue to tell my story.  That need became the seed of eventually adapting the play into what is now the book of That Day In September.  It’s been quite a journey to get to this place; having a published book in my hand (even if it was I who had to do the publishing).  It’s a journey I never would have imagined taking.  If 9/11 had never happened I wouldn’t even be writing this piece to you right now.  I have been able to pull two things of worth out of that tragedy.  One is the renewed appreciation I have for my family and, two, the passion to continue to tell my story of that day to any who will listen.  It is the one small part I can play in assuring that we never forget. 

That Handbills

One of the hardest things in those first weeks was passing the countless handbills that were going up all over the city—each with a different face and the bold word MISSING across the top. As the days went on and the number of those postings grew, looking at the word became heart-wrenching, knowing that these faces of strangers, of people loved and worried about, were not merely missing. But, to use any word other than “missing” would be to admit that hope was fading. And, as each day passed into another, the city waited, praying for a miracle recovery of even one lone survivor.

And as the weeks wore on, the handbills seemed to stick to the billboards and buildings and utility poles where they were pasted, with a desperate determination to remain there in spite of the slight tears and rips caused by the wind, the print faded in the sun, the word MISSING running, in the rain, onto the faces of those strangers.

The faces of the “missing” became the faces of “victims.” So many, many faces. I found myself wondering if I had passed any of them that morning on my way to work. Had I looked into one of those faces and exchanged a glance or a smile? Did any of those faces belong to the people I saw falling to their deaths? I avoided the areas of the city where I knew there were a lot of handbills. It hurt too much, trying to take in the fact that so many people were gone, that so many had died.

about the author

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.  

follow Artie on the web:
where his book can be purchased

check out this latest article on Artie from BBC News Magazine - 9/11: The 73 minutes that changed my life

    i would like to say thank you to Artie Van Why for guest posting today and to you as well for stopping by.

    No comments:

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...