What were you doing on this day in 2001? Twelve long years ago, we lived in Sydney and my youngest teenager was then an infant. Tomorrow evening Jed and I were watching the West Wing, when it was interrupted by news reports of an explosion of some kind in New York. I had never been to America, let alone New York, but this bustling city is a known place to everyone. As the news interruption carried the same footage over and over, there were no real answers. Reporters repeated the same conjecture and bewilderment.
Why was that helicopter circling?
What was going on?
Oh, it was a plane? (Thinking of someone in a small aircraft. Never thinking of a passenger jet.)
Then we saw the collapse of the first tower. There seemed even less answers. Complete bewilderment.
And then reports of other areas of the US, also being impacted. The Pentagon.
Another plane, second tower.
And eventually, I went to bed but Jed kept watching and waited for more news. Just prior to midnight he woke me up.
The second tower had gone.
In our morning, there was nothing else in Australia but this news. It was impossible to stop kids from seeing it, even though we turned it off. Even in Australia, there was nothing else to talk about.
Later Max, who was in kindergarten, came home with his collage of two towers and a plane. Teachers didn’t know what to say. Parents didn’t know how to manage it. Authoritative voices tried to give direction, but really – who’s kidding whom?
We still don’t know what to say.
Since that day, I have not only come to the USA, but I have visited more than once the site where the World Trade Center towers used to be.
My life has been full and adventurous since 2001 when for others, time ended or has stood still since that day.
The first time I went to the site, I remember my shock at realizing how intensely urban the area is. How concentrated a space. How busy people would have been that day at 9am, going about their normal routines – same as the financial district in the CBD of Sydney (times 20).
Today I am connected with people who were there. I can’t imagine their pain.
As a country, the US aches with 9/11 every year. As families and those who were present it must be one of the days where every hour the day before the anniversary, and the day after brings memories and pain. Not to even imagine the day of September 11 itself.
I respect the sacrifice made by those emergency response personnel and the people they were trying to help who perished on that day, and those who survived. And I am lighting a candle for families that had to pick up the pieces – and who still do, every day.