We know it's coming, yet that doesn't make it any easier.
Watching the planes slice through the towers and the towers crumble, seeing the Pentagon smoldering, and knowing the brave sacrifice that took place above a field in Pennsylvania -- all remain excruciating, as they should.
Documentaries and specials commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11 air this week and continue through Sunday, Sept. 11. They explore many angles including Animal Planet's "Saved" on Wednesday, Sept. 7, focusing on dogs that helped families heal after the attack, and CBS' "9/11: The 10th Anniversary" on Sept. 11, with Robert De Niro hosting an update of the only known film made inside the Twin Towers during the attack. Most stations pay homage to the anniversary, so please check local listings for additional shows.
The only series that consistently deals with the aftermath of 9/11, FX's magnificent "Rescue Me," has its series finale Wednesday, Sept. 7. Denis Leary, creator, star and producer, has never let the audience forget that 343 firefighters died that day as they raced into the towers everyone else was fleeing.
Without spoiling the finale, it's safe to say that even someone as scarred as Tommy Gavin (Leary) sees with a new life, new reasons to hope. It's perfectly in keeping with this show when recruits stand in front of a memorial to the dead firefighters.
"Find out who these men were and what they did on that day," Gavin tells them. "If you are lucky, one day you will get to run into a building while everyone else is running out."
Heroes are honored at the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero. History's "Making the 9/11 Memorial" on Sept. 11 shows how the elegant space was developed. Firefighters are grouped together, as are people who died together.
A common link among those killed was that so many were parents; the attacks of 9/11 left nearly 3,000 children without a father or mother. "Children of 9/11," NBC's heart-wrenching documentary airing Monday, Sept. 5, focuses on them. One boy in this film was 4 days old.
Thea Trinidad was 10, home from school for a doctor's appointment, when her dad called from the World Trade Center. They were talking when the phone went dead.
When a teacher told Caitlin Langone's class about the attack, another girl started crying because her dad worked in the Twin Towers. Caitlin, now 22, recalls in the film that she told her classmate, "People like my dad will be there; no one will leave them alone."
Police officer Thomas Langone, who was also a volunteer firefighter, was last seen ferrying people to safety on the 20th floor of the South Tower. Only his handcuffs were recovered.
This documentary includes home movies of those killed. What makes these so incredibly special is how completely mundane they are: a dad teaching his son to swing at a ball, a family singing over a birthday cake and doing a silly dance in the living room.
It's impossible to know if Rodney Ratchford, 21, would have had problems with the law -- he has since righted himself -- had his mother, Marsha Ratchford, an IT specialist with the Navy, not been killed in the Pentagon.
Many of these children get weary of being in the spotlight.
"People ask me how I feel," Rodney says. "Someone blew up your mama. How would you feel?"
Farquad Chowdhury has the distinction of being the first child born to a 9/11 victim. He was born Sept. 13. His father had been a waiter at Windows on the World.
Tom Burnett was on United Airlines Flight 93 and called home before he and others fought back. His wife recalls their last words, when he told her to pray.
Last words are the basis for History's "Voices From Inside the Tower" on Saturday, Sept. 10. Victims' families and 911 calls reveal final, desperate communications from those trapped. Their jobs didn't matter; invariably their last messages were "I love you."
These prove that ultimately nothing matters except love, as the title "The Love We Make" indicates. Showtime's Saturday documentary follows Paul McCartney immediately after the attacks. Albert Maysles ("Grey Gardens"), who chronicled the Beatles' 1964 New York debut, uses black and white footage to film McCartney. He stops and listens to people in the street and works on the benefit, "The Concert for New York City."
McCartney was headed to England, still on the tarmac at JFK, when he saw plumes of smoke from the towers but didn't know what they were.
He wanted to return to the city, but like everyone else, couldn't. He wound up watching the day unfold on TV.
"So while I was kind of sitting out there twiddling my thumbs, thinking of what to do, was there any role I could play in this?" McCartney says via satellite at a press conference. "The idea came to me that maybe we could do a concert."
That concert, on Oct. 20, 2001, honored first responders to Ground Zero. Singing "Freedom," McCartney belted: "We will fight for the right to live in -- freedom."