I was 15 at the time. I remember exactly where I was sitting in my art class when one of the American teachers came into the classroom to whisper something to our teacher. It was late morning, just after recess on the second day of school. It would have been mid morning NYC time. At that moment the only thing we could gather from the overheard whispered conversation was that a plane had hit the Twin Towers in New York. I remember feeling pleased with myself that I even knew what the towers were: a classmate of mine had built a model of the towers in Design Technology the previous year. I don’t think the gravity of the situation hit any of us at first: perhaps maybe a little plane had accidently hit the towers, or even a cargo plane piloted by a lunatic. But not two commercial airliners. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen! We sat in silence through the rest of the class, none of us knowing what to say.

By lunchtime a few more people had heard rumours of events in New York. Things like that there were two planes involved (what, you mean two planes crashed into each other, and they just happened to be passing by the Towers at the time?!), or maybe four planes. Someone else said there were 10 crashes. Numbers of people killed ranged from 1,000 to 60,000. I’m not sure any of us could really get our heads around what had happened. I’m embarrassed to admit that at the time I suggested maybe it was a joke in poor taste, or an elaborate hoax. But I guess it was what it was: something so terrible you couldn’t make it up.

In 2001 I think these terrorist attacks were the worst things in terms of number of murders I’d ever come across in my life. The TWA plane crash over the Atlantic, when I was about 11, made an impression on me, but nothing malicious was ever found. It’s still the worst single event that I can think of. It’s sad that the number who died that day is not a shade on the number of Afganis or Iraqis, or Western soldiers, who have died since the War on Terror was declared.

It’s strange to think it’s already been ten years since the ‘original’ 9/11. I can’t remember now if the Taleban, Al Qaeda or Bin Laden were part of ordinary parlance back then. It feels like I’ve always known the words, but I suspect not. I can’t remember if I always felt a slight unease about being in a little metal tube high in the sky. I’m guessing I probably only used to have the fear of it being struck by lightening, not that it could be used as a lethal missile.

In the past couple of days I’ve heard more rumours of new potential terrorist tactics. And that was before the ‘specific’ and ‘credible’ terrorist alert was reported on last night. But to recount the stories I’ve heard here would only serve in the terrorists’ interests: it’s my feeling we should have a day of memorial and remembrance to the victims of 9/11 and in the subsequent wars, as otherwise, to hide away in fear of another attack, would only demonstrate the terrorists were successful in terrorising the world.

Unfortunately I can’t promise I won’t be slightly scared when I have to board another plane in a couple of weeks. You know the old sayings of catch them when they’re ‘breathing a sigh of relief’ or ‘letting down their guard’…

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