Like many, I’ve seen a few of the programs recently on TV about the events of 11th September 2001. Stories of tradgedy and great heroism under circumstances that one would normally never even dream of in their wildest nightmare.
A generation older than me always spoke of the day that President Kennedy was assassinated. Even people here in the UK remembered what they were doing the day they heard that news. For my generation born later and those younger than me, we too have "our day in history". Will always remember what happened 5 years ago.
While at work on that 2001 Tuesday morning I heard sketchy reports and breaking news via media sites on the internet. I spoke from Birmingham, England, to a colleague in Burbank, California. He was hearing the news on breakfast TV. He was the first person to confirm to me that one tower had collapsed. I didn’t believe him and he repeated that he’d seen with his own eyes the first towers collapse on TV.
Many times since we have seen the footage of those final moments ; the communication tower sliding down on a columb of dust and carnage. And though we remember, the reality of the destruction of the world trade center still doesn’t seem real. It seems alien, as if we’re watching some special effects hollywood blockbuster. But there’s no ice cream or popcorn to be bought for this movie. This was real and excluding the 19 hijackers, a confirmed 2,973 people died and another 24 remain listed as missing as a result of the September 11th attacks. 2,602 people died in New York. Countless more have died since in Afganistan, Iraq, Madrid, Bali and London.
I watched footage again last night of unknown people, not jumping for their lives, but jumping for a quicker death. The "freedom" given by a 50,60,70 or 80 floors plunge and certain death being more preferable to that of a room full of burning aviation fuel. These images together with those that I have seen of the decapitation of Nick Berg in Iraq haunt me. The wishes and dreams of people just like you and I, normal people and their families, extinguished in an instant.
Two wrongs don’t make a right. How do we deal with the people that perpetrate these acts ? Do we bomb them in to submission ? Do we try and wipe the terrorists from the face of the planet or capture them and hold them for ever, without trial, in somewhere like Guantanamo Bay detainment camp in Cuba ? Revenge that in the short term makes us feel somehow safer.
How do the family and friends of these detainees react ? How does the Iraqi orphan child feel ? One who has lost 12 members of his immediate family through indescriminate coalition forces bombing ? Do they just shrug their shoulders ? or maybe wave a fist in defiance of the allies ? or later in life do they pick up arms for what they feel is a right and just struggle ?
Like many I have no answers. I just know that despite the many beautiful things there are in life, people, places, adventures ; there is an absolute evil lurking. The world has changed and we should never forget.