Sunday, 11 September 2011

Remembering nine-eleven

Today is all about the 10 year anniversary of the terrible events now broadly referred to as "nine-eleven". This is a date that will always be synonymous with terrorism and violence; the cracking of the world as we knew it.

Like many people, I remember it vividly. It was late evening. I was watching TV in bed (an episode of one of the Star Trek franchise I think) when Sandra Sully came onto the screen with the breaking news that a plane had just crashed into one of the World Trade Centre Buildings in New York. Replays were shown. At that point in time I (probably naively) assumed it was an accident, and I know I had absolutely no idea of the implications.

But the coverage continued and we all know what unfolded.

I recall watching in horror as the first tower collapsed in the background, while the talking head talked on -- a live-to-air disaster that the whole world watched before the reporter on screen was even aware it had happened. Seeing that collapse in real time packed a massive punch.

I remember waiting in dread for the second tower to fall. I remember seeing people jumping out of the windows and falling . . .

My parents were watching elsewhere in the house, and I think at some point I joined them. I must have gone to bed eventually, but it would have been hours later. At the time I didn't realise how much our world was going to change. It didn't occur to me that I was witnessing history. That came later. At the time it was confusion, panic and pandemonium.

I heard on the news last night that one firm lost all 650 of its employees that day -- out of nearly 3000 lives lost in total. And that includes all the fire-fighters and rescue-workers who died as well. The sheer scale of the devastation is still hard to get your head around.

But it's not just the number of deaths, because natural disasters and accidents can be just as devastating -- and have been in recent years. It's the impact the nine-eleven events had on the global psyche. The fear. The paranoia. The violence in retaliation.

On the news tonight they said it had been a "decade of war". That snagged my attention, because it's true. I find that depressing.

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