A Family's Grief, Two Decades After 9/11

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The 'Tribute in Light' memorial lights up lower Manhattan near One World Trade Center on September 11, 2018 in New York City. 2021 marks the twentieth anniversary of September 11, 2001. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In one month, the U.S. will mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, when nearly 3,000 Americans were killed in terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In a new piece for The Atlantic, staff writer Jennifer Senior details how the family of Bobby McIlvaine continues to mourn and search for meaning two decades after he was killed in the attacks. The portrait reveals the disparate ways his loved ones process their grief, including Bobby’s father, who turned to 9/11 truther conspiracies to make sense of the loss, and Bobby’s former girlfriend, who holds on to one of his journals. As we remember the tragedy of that fateful day in 2001, we’ll talk to Senior about what the McIlvaines’ story tells us about grieving, both as individuals and as a nation.


Jennifer Senior, staff writer, The Atlantic