September 11th 2001.
A day that changed the world.
I was 11. I got home from school and found Mum staring at the TV fixed. I couldnt comprehend what I was seeing. There were two towers with gaping holes and flames coming out of them. Occasionally they would replay a clip of one plane hitting the building.
“How are they going to fight a fire that high up?”
“Those arent going to stay up”
“How many other planes are going to hit buildings?”
“Is this the start of WW3”
Dramatic maybe but to a 11 year old who hadnt really experienced the IRA, Fawklands or anything because she was too young this was the first major event that could seriously shape my future. I was scared. Frightened. A huge amount of people had just died.
Planes that I dreamed to pilot one day had just been taken over by terrorists and used as weapons of mass destruction. “Was anywhere safe?”
I was confused. The world was changing at a rapid pace. Someone, an organisation, terrorists, had enough hate in them to kill thousands of people in one go. So much hate.
And then it happened. The image that haunts us all. The towers imploding. One by one they fell as the people ran screaming. News images of manhattan literally covered in smoke, dust. A whole island shrouded.The skyline changed forever. But not only that but the world.
I had only just begun secondary school. A few days before. We barely knew each other yet. Most of us were strangers to each other. But on September the 12th we arrived at school and we had one thing in common. A fear. A fear of how our world was changing. People knew people. People knew of people. Very few knew no one. My dad was working for the american giant that is Cisco Systems. I knew there would be people within their company that had been killed. Such a large company who at the time used air travel like busses to transport their employees around the world wouldnt escape this. And they didnt.
As an 11 year old just starting secondary school, beginning a new chapter in my life. I suddenly didnt want to grow up. I didnt want to grow up in a world where people flew planes with 200 people on them into buildings with thousands of innocent lives inside.
“Is this going to become a normal thing?”
No where in the world felt safe. I became hugely paranoid. I still am. About my Dad flying for buisness anywhere. If he did I had to know the exact flight number and everything.
Prior to 9/11 I didnt know what the World Trade Centers were. I’d never seen them. Now. For me, it is strange when I see them, standing, in films made prior to that day. The first time I ever set eyes on those buildings were with smoke streaming out of them.
I will never be able to comprehend what those men and women trapped in those buildings went through. Questioning to jump or to hope.
I will never be able to imagine how those who were minutes away from arriving there but didnt make it, felt. Be it the phone rung the moment they walked out the door and delayed them, they missed their train, there was traffic. Whatever stopped them from being there happened. Guilt. Relief. So many emotions they will have felt. Having to carry on with their lives knowing that could have been them.
“Where and when will they strike next?”
I’ve seen the films. I’ve watched the documentary’s. Why do I do it? Its 9 years ago now. I do it to remind myself why our British Men and Women are dying every single day in the middle east. Why they are serving their country and putting their lives on the line. Why they are risking life and limb. They are doing it for us. So that we can live in a world where this isn’t a normal occurrence. Where these mass hate crimes don’t happen yearly. Their families spend every single day worried. Wondering if today is the day they will get the knock on the door. Its all too easy to forget the amount of men and women over the decades, WW1, WW2, Fawklands etc, Iraq. Have lost their lives for our freedom. Our freedom to walk down the street and to return home to our children.
9 Years feels like yesterday. In the past nine years I have completed Secondary school, Lost two Grandparents, Had a son at 16, Become a Single Mum at 17, Passed my driving test, Moved out of home, Had a miscarriage, Lost a friend aged 19, Passed my Guide Leader Qualification, Cycled London to Brighton three times, Run the Hyde Park Womens Challenge 3 times.
So next time you walk down the street and go about your daily life just remember that we might not be able to function so normally if it wasnt for all the brave men and women who put their life on the line every single day.
9/11 was the one time that everyone around the world ignored differences in religion. It no longer mattered. Christian, Catholic, Buddist, Sikhs. We were all one.
May god bless those who lost their lives, their families. As well as those who survived. And those who every day are fighting for their country and the citizens within their country.
Let us never forget.