Communicating 9/11: How We Talk and Write About it Does Make A Difference

In 2007, I shared my very personal 9/11 story. That was also the year I was devastated to learn our daughter didn’t — wouldn’t believe that the events of that date actually happened.  She didn’t remember — was just young enough then, that her absorption of it was at a minimum. In 2008 we took her to the site, to ground zero and finally, it really sunk in.

9/11 was real.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the acts of terrorism, the Associated Press has provided us with guidelines to use when referring to, speaking about or publishing about 9/11.

  • Flight 93: Acceptable in first reference for United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pa. Include airline name and context of crash in subsequent references. Flight 93 memorial is acceptable in all references for the Flight 93 National Memorial at the crash site.
  • ground zero: Acceptable term for the World Trade Center site.
  • The Sept. 11 attacks killed nearly 3,000 people: 2,753 in New York. Includes three later deaths from respiratory disease that have since been linked to illnesses caused by the towers’ collapse. 40 in Pennsylvania. 184 at the Pentagon. Total: 2,977 as of July 25, 2011. 2,983 names will be listed on the Sept. 11 memorial, including six who died in the 1993 World Trade Center truck bombing.

It’s important to remember, to be consistent in our storytelling and shared memories, to preserve and maintain the language with which we speak about the tragedies of that day, so generations later, history will not be rewritten.