It doesn't matter what's going on in our lives at this time each year - the significance of the date seeps into our minds and we start talking about it.
"I can't believe it's been 14 years already," someone says. "I remember exactly what I was doing."
We all do.
It's a new school year, and like every other year, the kids are having a soft start - teachers are getting to know their students and giving out little actual work to complete at home. This will change drastically in the next week. My daughter comes home with little projects that she shares with me. Yesterday's project was an interview.
"Mom, we have to interview people who went through 9/11," she stated, as if that day was a battle we fought. "Do you remember what you were doing that day?"
"Oh, yes," I replied, launching into my own story. I gave her the middle-school version of it, peppering it with personal details so it would seem more real. She needs to know that this wasn't just a historical event - it was an ordinary day.
"Do you remember how you felt?"
A familiar torrent of emotions. Tears come from nowhere. "Scared. I was scared. I imagined more attacks, roads closing. There was nothing to do except watch the news."
Later, she sat at the table and my husband gave her his version of the story.
There are countless stories about that day. We share them in conversations, and they are recorded in classrooms. We write them online and read what others did that day. Over time the fear and emotions we felt will soften and the hard edges will round, but I hope the stories live on.
That day brought us all together, just like every other major event in history.
Collectively, we remember.