You all know what today is. Broadband internet and DVD were in their infancy, the worst man in the world was Saddam Hussein. Youtube, Facebook and Myspace hadn’t yet been conceived, and neither had many of the youngsters who play in our streets today. The World Trade Center was one of many monuments to American engineering, pride and ambition, workplace for many, one of the most recognisable features of the New York skyline. Thousands of people went there that day, many didn’t come out alive and would have known little of what was happening, known neither why they had to die, nor the message that was being sent to them as part of the personified ‘America’ that was attacked.
People are individuals. A Country is a piece of land and a political system but it cannot speak for everybody, and it remains there long after it’s inhabitants are gone. The only people that could have known what would happen that day were the people who planned it, and the ones that they interacted with who could have only seen a fraction of the story, but are haunted by not being able to prevent it. The people who occupied the towers were in the wrong place at the wrong time, a cliche but a colossal understatement.
I’m in the same room I was when I put the TV on and saw one of the World’s biggest buildings bleeding a deathly smoke, heard news reporters struggling to find out what was happening, to tell the World things it would take everyone years to understand. And still, there is a sense of unreality about it. How a religion can be twisted in a way that would allow anybody to believe that was the right thing. This seems to have been repeated, with 7/7 and other incidents, it seems like the ‘angry young man’ can be found in many cultures, and can be manipulated by the wrong people.
I don’t blame Islam for what happened, same as I don’t blame Western religion for Waco. In a bad state of mind anything can be made to make sense by a charismatic person people trust, and manipulative people can also be found the world over. Every religion has had a bad person who makes their own interpretation of what is acceptable, for their own purposes. On this day ten years ago, the World realised how far they will go.
Hundreds of police and firefighters went to that scene, not knowing how bad it would get, not knowing if they’d come back alive. Think about that. Two buildings which would soon collapse, tall enough to crush several surrounding buildings. And people were going in. Doing what they can to rescue people in a situation where they were practically blinded, communication marred by a longstanding rivalry between the police and the fire department, which meant some information was shared too late to save many of those well intentioned saviours. That rivalry ended that day, along with so many lives. That day that brought buildings down, lives to an end, and distant countries together.
Everything has changed so much in the intervening years. People have suffered undue prejudice because their religion or nationality resemble those of the perpetrators. Hatred provokes hatred, and the people really responsible had disappeared from justice. Their actions were a betrayal of the real religion that they claimed to follow, they hid behind it and many people were too angry to see that. They too, were victims of 9/11 as were the families.
I realise at this point that I haven’t used the ‘t’ word. The one that has been used throughout this decade, so often that it’s lost all meaning. But then so much about this has been meaningless. Some people knocked something over and countless lives were changed forever.
I’ve seen a part of History, and watched the the results of acts of evil, heard people who escaped that day. I hope that I never see anything this real again.
I will never forget.