People always say that you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when a disaster strikes. I don’t think that modern times have produced an occasion more worthy of that saying than the tragedies of September 11th 2001.
I was sitting at a childhood friend’s dinner table, eating a slice of doughy cheese and tomato pizza. Her mother came into the room looking shocked and worried. “Do you remember when we went to New York and saw those two huge towers? They’re gone. They’ve been blown up.” Now, as a 10 year old I automatically assumed that they’d been demolished – images of the cartoon TNT plunger were all that was in my child’s brain. But once we saw the horrifying footage on her television, our perceptions changed, as did the world, forever.
The next morning my sister and I were allowed to eat our breakfast in the living room whilst we watched the endless footage of the planes crashing into the towers. In our quiet house in quiet Britain, we felt both a million miles away from this devastating event yet it also felt eerily close to home. I don’t think, at that age, that I could really comprehend the scale and true horror of what happened that day; I didn’t even know about the other two planes (which crashed into the Pentagon and into a field in Pennsylvania) until years later.
As we grew up, and saw many programmes and films about the 9/11 attacks, we only realised more and more how much the world had changed as a result. We went on holiday to Florida in 2002, and the contrast between the level of security at the airport then compared to a couple of years previous was immense. Although the events were, undisputedly, felt most intensely in New York, there were ripples around the entire world which are still being felt.
When visiting Ground Zero last year, I felt something which I had never experienced before. The whole place was chilling, but underneath the cloud of despair and grief was the most overwhelming feeling of hope. There was an energy that was unfamiliar; the mixture of remembering the past but reaching towards the future. New York is the strongest city I have ever visited, with the most incredible spirit.
On this day, I wanted to remember the thousands of people who lost their lives or lost loved ones; that phrase, “loved ones”, is something I avoid when writing a script for journalistic purposes, but in this post and in this situation it is unavoidable. How anyone could write about 9/11 without emotion is beyond me.
I have remembered by sharing my memories in terms of hearing about the disaster. Please feel free to share your own memories of 9/11 in the comments below.
Remembering 9/11 10 Years On – 11th September 2011