Ben’s reflection on 9/11 a decade later.

“9/11 was a horrible and shocking event. I can’t believe it has been a decade since it occurred. I thought it would be prudent to reflect on my impression and memory of what happened on 11th September 2001.” – Ben

A sad image of the smoke.

That morning.

I remember my mother waking me up in a bit of panic. She is American and all I can recall her saying was “you have to come see the news” – she couldn’t even explain what was happening at that point. I saw the video footage of the planes hitting the towers and I thought it was a trailer for some new movie. It took a few seconds to realise that this wasn’t some Hollywood special effect – but happening in real life. I think that’ll be a comment impression. It took me the rest of the day to come to grips with the horror that had happened. The sheer amount of death and destruction is something you can’t really process quickly. Sad stories would later come out about people jumping (like ‘the falling man‘) rather than burn, all the amazingly brave and heroic firefighters and police that died trying to save people. It’s all really sickening.

My most vivid impression.

I remember standing on the train platform in Sydney waiting to go into school and no one talking. If people were talking, it was a very hushed conversation about what had happened. Everyone was in shock. Everyone was wondering what was going to happen next.

The rest of that day.

I was at school talking about what had happened and I recall everyone believing that America would be going to war over this. I was really impressed with how the USA responded to the attacks – it unified in pride and support. On the other hand, I think the global backlash on Muslims has been unfair. It is never fair to condemn an entire group of people for the actions of a small percentage who are extremists. It’s sad that some people in this world are still racist. I also think it’s pathetic for anyone to say “They [Americans] deserved it”.  The people that were killed, the office workers, the airline passengers, were not guilty of anything.

Stuck in the USA.

My dad was actually in Chicago when it happaned. He was staying in a hotel that was directly opposite the Sears tower and remembers SWAT teams storming the area to check for terrorist activity. The entire US airspace was shut down – which is called SCATANA and has only ever happened once in history. Like a lot of people, he was stranded in continental USA and trying to get back home to Australia and couldn’t work out how. They had a rather clever idea – hire a bus and drive to Canada and try and get a flight out. He managed to reach Canada and when he got wind of a rumour that LAX would be opening to allow outbound international flights, he got there and flew home.

The post-9/11 world

I think everyone will agree that it is a different world post-911. The most obvious effect is how painful airline security is now – but everyone respects why that is the case. It’s sad that these attacks continue around the world. I was actually in England in 2005 during the London Bombings. It was sad that even Australia has been effected with the Bali Bombings. Thankfully there hasn’t been any terrorist attacks on Aussie soil (*knocks on wood*). It would be a pretty sad event considering how multicultural Australia is – that and Australia really isn’t the enemy of anyone.

“I hope my ranting hasn’t offended anyone. I just wanted to share my thoughts on this.” – Ben

2 thoughts on “Ben’s reflection on 9/11 a decade later.

  1. I was nine when my elementary school teacher shepherded me and my class into the school auditorium. Usually, this was done to make an important announcement, but instead we all just sat there, talking and laughing, unaware that the members of faculty were summoning the courage to inform us that our country had been attacked, and that some of our parents may be trapped in the buildings. No one at the time could figure if it was an isolated incident – maybe even an accident – an orchestration by anti-American forces, or even a declaration of war from one of our countless enemies. For a time, some of them worried that even our town of suburban New Jersey was in peril. We were sent home early, delightfully clueless as to why. No one bothered to ask questions.

    The news was broken to me by my parents, five hours later. Not a soul in my immediate family had been killed. We did all worry about a certain family friend – my sister’s boyfriend at the time – who had recently taken a job on the 90th floor. But in a tale of almost painful irony, he was attending a funeral that morning, and wouldn’t have shown up for work until later that day, had his offices still been there.

    None of my classmates’ lost loved ones, either. I remember one girl, Brittany, who was on the brink of a nervous breakdown, as no one could establish contact with her father, who had worked in the lower floors. He had fallen two or three stories after the stairs gave in, and crawled out of the danger zone in need of medical attention. Our primary teacher, Mrs. Lignelli, hadn’t shown up for work for days, and we all worried about her. A week later, she strolled into class, brought in a small photograph and a notecard, and told everyone how much she misses her brother.

    Just about everyone in the media tried to make heads or tails about the event. But if anyone successfully channeled Edward Murrow reporting the Holocaust or Walter Cronkite reporting the assassination of President Kennedy, it was Jon Stewart. In true “Daily Show” fashion, he wasn’t really reporting on the event at all, but focussed on the aftermath, something the rest of the news establishment seemed intent on ignoring. “We have already won.” he said teary-eyed, “We rebuild and move on and move forward. You can’t destroy that with a couple of airplanes.”

    It can be far too tempting for Americans such as myself to look back at September 11th and feel paralyzed in self-pity, even ten years later. Most of us were paraded into war with the Middle East, and hardly anyone took the time to question whether Iraq had been truly responsible. We were disillusioned to the point of re-electing George W. Bush for a second term, even though the vast majority had grown condemnatory toward anything else he did in office. We sent thousands of American and International soldiers to their deaths, and countless more Iraqis and Afghans, nearly all of whom were just as innocent as those trapped in the towers. And I imagine that, had I been ten years older then, I would still be that clueless kid sitting in the auditorium, not thinking to ask questions.

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