Living in New York for a year has many benefits. It’s like having a box seat to culture and history.

In a few days the focus in the city will be on the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center towers. I saw tenth-anniversary t-shirts on sale a month ago.

Among all the possible activities the one I look forward to most is this film: Project Rebirth. A combination of time-lapse photography from Ground Zero and nine individual stories followed over the last decade will celebrate resilience, hope, and healing from tragedy.

I’m looking forward to this film scheduled to be broadcast on Showtime on 9-11 and then available at this website.

The film is based on this book. I met co-author Courtney E. Martin for breakfast recently and knew immediately that any project she is part of will be excellent.

Have you witnessed rebirth in your life or in the lives of those around you? What phoenix have you seen rising out of ashes?

Shirley Showalter


  1. brendabpeterson on September 8, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    I thought at the time of terrorism that I had now lived through the worst that life had to dish out. I was wrong. Of course, the holocaust was worse on a communal level but my personal worst came just seven months later when my son was killed in an accident. Whether communal or personal, devastating loss requires time, resilience and hope to recover from. Sharing the horrors of loss brings us closer together. Our nation was definitely closer in the years following 9/11. I personally turned to others who had lost a child, who understood my grief. Walking a journey together always makes it seem more bearable. May we all share the memories on this anniversary so they’ll seem less painful.

  2. shirleyhs on September 8, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Brenda, I remember my grandfather standing over my father’s grave with tears in his eyes. “It’s not supposed to be like this,” he said. I also will never forget how my mother grieved when we lost my baby sister to a congenital heart disease. I think it must be the very worst kind of grief. I know it never goes away.

    Another inspiring program about 9-11 was this one on Terry Gross’s program Fresh Air on NPR.
    I hadn’t realized how many father-son teams work for the NYFD and NYPD until I heard Ken Haskell’s story of a fireman father looking for his son’s body in the wreckage. How awful that would be. Yet the human need to go on comes back. Often it is through giving to others and saving other lives that the best healing comes.

    Blessings to you.

  3. […] first post on 9-11 this week asked for stories. One friend, artist  Erma Martin Yost could not just write a comment. Her heart […]

  4. Aron on September 9, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    I will never forget that day. I worked across the street at the AMEX building and i was outside of tower 1 when it was hit and that picture still brings chills up and down my body

  5. shirleyhs on September 9, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Aron, thank you for sharing the experience of trauma with us. Most of us can only imagine the horror you saw. I hope you are able to read the story I posted this afternoon (there are three 9-11 posts here). One of your fellow New Yorkers shared how she has coped with the deep and painful memories of the fateful, beautiful, day in September ten years ago.

  6. Nicky on October 9, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    What a fantastic doco. Very heartbreaking & moving but it was nice to see that everyone could heal by the end

    • shirleyhs on October 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm

      Thanks, Nicky. Thank God for the ability to transform tragedy and for the creative human spirit.

  7. Laurie Buchanan on April 4, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Shirley — This post takes me back in time. On 9-11 I was heading east on the freeway to work (back when I was in the corporate world). I was listening to the radio that was interrupted for an emergency broadcast informing the public of what was taking place.

    When I arrived work, the people who were already there were crowded around a television set in the break room, and that’s where we stayed—stunned and heartbroken—for the entire day.

    Rebirth can be enormous and public, like New York City. Or it can be small and personal, like waking up each morning with the intent of living the best version of oneself.

    • Shirley Hershey Showalter on April 4, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      Laurie, it’s hard in some ways to imagine you in the corporate world. You have made many changes in your own life.

      I love the idea of the small, personal, rebirth. You are an expert in helping others experience such moments. You have made yourself your first subject and now share Note to Self with others!

  8. Susan Scott on April 4, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Almost 16 years since this happened- I remember it clearly although on the other side of the world.

    • Shirley Hershey Showalter on April 4, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      Susan, thank you so much for this picture of the impact of 9-11 in the other side of the world. Hard to imagine that so much time has elapsed since then. Some memories are so searing they seem to resist time itself. Hope you get to visit this building sometime. Stuart says that the view is amazing.

  9. Audrey Denecke on April 4, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    9-11 did sear our collective sense of relative safety. I will never forget it nor all the stories flowing from it.
    In our modern history, there have been so many soul-jarring events: a horrendous war in Vietnam, killings of students at Kent State, an assassination of a President, a Civil Rights leader, Mississippi civil rights workers, Sandy Hook (Newton, CT.)killings of small children and their educators, and more and more.
    Rebirth? No, not in the way 9-11 survivors or Sandy Hook families, or even families in Chicago or Milwaukee experience loss of family to street violence, or loved ones of that loss on the Minnesota bridge failure. But, I believe, for those of us who are awake and open to these tragedies, they leave certain tracings with us (some say at the cellular level). Our hearts are opened, and perhaps each event transforms us in small or large ways, known and unknown to us.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 4, 2017 at 7:31 pm

      Audrey, I can tell you have been thinking about the sixties and seventies. The traumas we have lived through have left their marks on the collective psyche. I like your description of rebirth: “But, I believe, for those of us who are awake and open to these tragedies, they leave certain tracings with us (some say at the cellular level). Our hearts are opened, and perhaps each event transforms us in small or large ways, known and unknown to us.”

      The process is complex and not an easy equivalency at all. But the possibilities of creative new outcomes do exist. Resilience seems to me like a human gift of the divine.

      • Audrey Denecke on April 4, 2017 at 8:17 pm

        Thank you, Shirley. Yes, my memoir has me revisiting the 60’s and 70’s. The words you captured from my response came through me this afternoon. I watched the PBS Independent Lens program on Newton’s Sandy Hook tragedy last night. It brought me to a deep place as did your post today. And yes, I so agree we often need a strength beyond our ego self to take us through these dark, destructive, and yet potentially creative episodes. Resilience is truly a gift.

        I may bring my

  10. June on April 5, 2017 at 10:54 am

    I definitely had a period of rebirth. I had been married to my first husband for 20 years, and without going into the details, I left my husband. My two boys and myself started all over again. I can definitely relate to the imagery of the Phoenix rising from the ashes.
    The words that I take to heart are from Isaiah 61:3 to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 5, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      June, you know this experience from down deep inside. Thank you for sharing your story and also this powerful verse from Isaiah. I can imagine they sustained you many times. May you be enjoying now the crown of beauty and garment of praise.

  11. Mary Gottschalk on April 5, 2017 at 11:14 am

    My memory, as an ex-New Yorker, was being there the spring following 911 and seeing the thousands and thousands and thousands of daffodils that had been donated by people from all over the country and the world. They were planted in every available patch of dirt around central Manhattan. It was glorious!

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