Some psychiarists posited emotional impact zones of the September 11th massacre, and in some ways I think this is fair. We all experienced it, it brought us all together (if only relatively briefly, and if only until the tragedy became an excuse for other mass murders). The state of Virginia took out a beautiful ad in the New York Times -- VA (hearts) NY that brings tears to my eyes now. But nothing can be done to bridge the difference between the pain and trauma of those near ground zero and those not, or those 15 miles away and those hours away . . .
My husband saw the towers collapse through the window of the hospital he was rotating through (later they would discharge stable patients to make room for survivors who would never come). We couldn't connect after the first phone call, after the first impact made the news (just in time to show the second) -- at that time, it had seemed a horrible accident, a terrible mistake. Our neighbors lost grown children, our church lost members, we lost our fragile sense of security.
To be honest I've avoided any sort of 9/11 remembrance today (and certainly avoided tv). Having been in New York -- having just survived our own personal trauma four months earlier, having just begun to hope that the world could be normal and my son could be safe -- we remember it too freshly still. That, I think, is the hardest part about it having been five years -- that sometimes it could've been just yesterday.