Today is the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 calamity, and from that day forward the world has become a more dangerous place. I was living with friends when it happened and I remember watching it on TV as events unfolded. This was however, not some Hollywood style disaster movie, but the real thing, in colour, in bright sunlight, and real people were losing their lives as we watched. It was also a turning point in world history because America would become engulfed in a protracted campaign in the Middle East, and air travel became even more tedious. The usual conspiracy theorists rubbed their collective hands together and checked under the rug to see if they could start a new theory, the internet went crazy and the media had a more than a field day. And, in many homes loved ones did not return from their day.
I was in New York City in the early months of 2001, but was based out in Flushing, and all I could see of the skyline of Manhattan was the Empire State Building and the WTC in the distance.
I had organised to go into NYC on one day, but the day I was scheduled to go ended up being changed and I went the next day. As luck would have it the weather was grotesque, and armed with a really lousy 35mm camera I headed off towards the Hudson River where USS Intrepid was moored. I was more interested in the maritime history than anything else, so going to look at the WTC was not really on my list. Besides, I had also booked to go on a Circle Line cruise down the Hudson so it was pretty inevitable that I would see them anyway. Did I mention the weather was lousy? Because the image below is all I saw of the WTC on that brief expedition.
Naturally today I regret not being able to get a better look at NYC, but that was how things worked out. A friend of mine who had been there in better weather was luckier than I was, so I do have his image to view, albeit in a very small version.
And while I was reading the many retrospective posts about the incident I could not help thinking about the many police members and firefighters who risked their lives trying to assist at the scene, and how many of them went back into the doomed buildings. It takes a special courage to do that, and there was no shortage of that courage on 9/11. It is also difficult to read about the many people who died in those buildings and not feel saddened in some way. In many cases people lost their lives by being early, or were saved because they took a different route, Death was waiting all over the site of the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and he claimed many for himself.
Today there is a memorial at the site to the 2983 victims that lost their lives, and a new glass tower has risen to dominate the skyline. But will we ever be safe again? Somehow I doubt it. As long as there are fanatics and their followers who are prepared to go to oblivion, or leaders who think getting embroiled in a war will benefit mankind then we will never be safe. The recent events in Afghanistan are really a direct consequence of the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent bad decisions made by the American Government at the time. The consequences of 9/11 have been far reaching for people on both sides, and at that defining moment in history the world should have reached the understanding that unless we disengage and quit trying to slaughter each other, we will end up slaughtering us all.
© DRW 2012-2021. Images recreated 25/03/2016, moved to 09/11/2021