Remembering 9/11

9-11-2001

I wrote the date today and realized that it is 9/11. So it is 13 years since 9/11/2001. It is one of those days that, when you look back, you will remember exactly what you were doing when you heard the news.

People say they felt the same when hearing about the assassination of John F Kennedy, though I am too young to remember that. I was living in the US when the Challenger exploded and when Chernobyl happened. I was living in South Africa when the country became a democracy. I was living in Sweden when the Foreign Minister was stabbed in a department store, dying a day later (ironically on 9/11/2003). But nothing has shocked me to my core as the 9/11 attacks in the USA did.

On September 11, 2001 I was teaching when one of my colleagues came into my classroom with a piece of paper she had printed out from the Swedish news service. It said that a plane had crashed into one of the towers. We stopped the class and discussed it for a while and then continued as normal. A while later she came in and said that it had happened again. At this point no one wanted to continue studying so we ended the class early.

I went straight home and turned on the television. The scenes being played out (and which would be replayed endlessly over the coming days and weeks) were like something from a blockbuster movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the main role. But they were not. They were real. It felt unreal though the first few days. Everyone was in shock. Regular television programming stopped, all movies and images which featured the twin tours were pulled from the schedule.

Even though it was so far away, Jo Elvin the editor of UK Glamour, with whom I had been discussing a project, was trapped in New York City. A friend of mine was staying fairly close to Ground Zero and I had several students who were unable to get home. In addition to that, because of the wealth of television programmes, movies and internet content from there, we probably all feel the US is closer than it is. Not to mention the fact that it is comforting to know the US is out there, ready to help fight the good fight. And suddenly to see them as so vulnerable was shocking to the core on so many levels.

A week later I was being trained on distance language course server administration when we had a silent minute (it may have been more, I don’t remember. All I remember is that it seemed to be a very long time).

The 11th September 2001 changed our world, in a way that does not happen very often. The aftershocks are still reverberating around the world today. My thoughts go out to everyone who was directly and indirectly affected by it.



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