Today is the 11th of September – 11/9/2020.
Or, to put it another way – September 11th.
It’s 19 years ago today. That’s starting to be a long time. There are people in the world who are now adults, who were born after it happened. I was speaking to someone a little while ago who said ‘9/11? What was that?’
But for those of us who can remember it, it’s something we will never forget. We all know where we were and what we were doing the day it happened.
I was teaching – it was about 4 in the afternoon, the children had gone, and I was just sorting things out for the following day. My partner (who became the husband who left me) rang me on my mobile. He never rang me when I was at work, so I knew it was something important.
He was away on business, and had seen a TV screen in the hotel lobby as he was passing through. At this point, one plane had hit one tower.
I had a TV in my classroom, so I turned it on, and myself and two colleagues watched as the second plane hit the second tower.
While there had only been one plane, there was a glimmer of a possibility that it was all a tragic accident. The second plane brought us face to face with the reality that it was a deliberate, planned, terrorist attack.
I got home and turned the TV on straight away. I watched the towers fall, first one and then the other. There was a strange feeling of unreality about it – I guess we’ve all seen so many disaster movies, it was hard for the brain to acknowledge that this was real. It was days later, after seeing the footage time after time, that I realised that in seeing it happen live, we had all witnessed the deaths of all of those people in that moment of collapse.
On one of my trips with my first husband we’d tried to get up the World Trade Centre but had been unable to as it was closed due to a terrorist threat. But on a later trip we’d managed to get up one of the towers – we’d taken the lift all the way to the top, and had orange juice and giant chocolate chip cookies at the top. It’s funny what you remember.
New York is one of the places I want to visit again. I went there five times when I was at sea, and again as part of a family holiday in 1997 – but I haven’t been since, and I feel the need to go and pay my respects. And I will, one day.
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