Tuesday, the 11th day of September 2001 means many different things to many different people. For me, it evokes a number of strong memories. I consider there to be several powerful connections between myself and 9/11.
First, I associate it with the death of both my mother and a favorite cousin. My mother passed away shortly before that tragic day but I returned to my home in the American Southwest one day prior. I was already an emotional wreck from attending her funeral. I observed the second plane hitting the World Trade Center while at a local department store; I had entered the store to see customers and staff all gathered in the electronics department watching smoke arise from the Towers and initially thought they were watching the trailer for a new movie. The next hours found me glued to the television in my apartment in stunned amazement as each succeeding event unfolded; those hours turned into days. I do not recall exactly when I returned to work but by then the world had changed in a profound way.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, one of my cousins was involved in recovery work following the collapse of the Twin Towers. He was a New Jersey State Police Officer and a big Bruce Springsteen fan. In fact, we attended one of Bruce’s intimate Holiday Shows in Asbury Park a couple of years after 9/11. A year after that, I was in London when I received a call that Doug had died. He’d contracted a disease brought about by the tremendous amount of dust from debris and human remains while performing that recovery work in the ruins of the WTC.
I remember the period following the terrorist attacks against our nation somewhat fondly but with a few forebodings as well. Throughout my childhood, teens and adulthood I considered myself as a patriot. I loved the history of the United States and subscribed to the notion that we were the greatest country on the planet. This was before I discovered one of our ancestors fought in the American Revolution and, indeed, was a close enough friend of General George Washington’s that he ended up becoming the only non-Mason as our first President’s funeral in 1799.
In the six months or so following September 11th, I felt even more proud to be American. I felt a part of a country that I thought had forgotten how to be patriotic. I loved seeing the Stars and Stripes flying EVERYWHERE including from all manner of moving vehicles, especially Ford pickup trucks (you know, the ones in Texas and New Mexico with the gun racks coming as standard equipment).
In the spring of 2003, I did some travelling and wore two lapel pins everywhere I went. One was an American flag while the other was a representation of the Twin Towers. In both England and France, numerous strangers approached me to offer their condolences for our national loss. This was repeated throughout China, Hong Kong, and South Korea (but, oddly enough, not in Thailand although that portion of my trip was entirely inside of the airport as everything was shutdown and flights cancelled due to SARS). The comments further fueled my patriotism.
However, I began to buy into the generally jingoistic attitude of many of my associates who displayed an eagerness to go “kill the towel-heads” for putting the hurt on the good old U.S. of A.
Hey, wait a minute. Did I become a racist? For a period of time, the entire nation seemed to lose sight of the basic fact that all human beings are one and the same. We are all just trying to get by within the belief systems we hold dear. We shouldn’t discriminate ANYBODY for thinking differently than we do. Violence shouldn’t be condoned, of course, but I don’t consider violence to be endemic to a particular nationality, religion or culture.
So, I associate 9/11 with the beginning of my questioning the ideologies of my own government. I began to take a closer look at my elected leaders and do feel that the witch-hunt that ensued was the largest source of the problems that I feel still dominate U.S. politics. At this time, I also started to take a much closer look at American history, finding what we were taught in school to be largely propaganda that certainly doesn’t begin to tell the whole story.
By the time of my cousin’s funeral in early December 2004, I had decided to become an expatriate and leave the nation of my birth indefinitely. This doesn’t mean that I am any less patriotic but that I am taking a much closer look at what it means to be an American and how to use that knowledge to be more of a “World Citizen” than to lord over others. That type of viewpoint is easier to see when staying outside of the Land of the Free for a prolonged period of time.
It has been quite a journey to get here, to this State of Mind. Along the way, I rediscovered my passion for philately (stamp collecting). I had taken a break around 1997 but began a completely new collection not long after putting down my roots in Phuket, Thailand, in early 2005. The time I can spend on the hobby ebbs and flows with my workload but it is always there to draw me in, to relax me when I need an escape and to stimulate my brain with far-reaching interests.
I believe I began looking at 9/11 as a collectible theme around the time of the tenth anniversary of the attacks in 2011. I had been reluctant to obtain such material because I am usually quite sad around this time of the year recalling my mother’s passing and the events of that Tuesday morning in New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and the rest of the nation, of the world, really.
As I began to obtain more and more stamps dealing with this horrific period of modern history, I realized that the items demonstrate a willingness of people to support others who have experienced loss. This wasn’t just an American event but an international one and many of the stamps are in the spirit of “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” in the unfortunately never-ending battle against tyranny and aggression. We still see this type of support in 2022 directed towards Ukraine and her people.
What is illustrated below is certainly not a complete catalogue of what is available for a 9/11 topical collection. Some items come directly from my holdings, others are images found online (mostly from Delcampe). I have decided to list these chronologically rather than by issuing entity. I have not included any catalogue numbers as the majority were issued by philatelic agencies that are not listed in the majority of catalogues.
I hope you enjoy looking at the images of these stamps and covers as much as I had in collecting them.
9/11. Remember. We Shall Never Forget.
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