Sunday 11 September 2011

Every generation has a JFK moment...9/11 is ours

You don’t even have to ask anyone of my age where they were and what they were doing on 9/11….everyone simply offers up their actions and whereabouts in seconds. In my case I was 6 pregnant climbing up and down a ladder as we had no staircase. We were finishing off some home renovations in preparation for the arrival of our first child a few months later. My father was with me and getting very anxious about my ladder antics and firmly told me I was to stay either upstairs or downstairs. It was then that I went into the kitchen to put the kettle on and switched Sky News on. The rest of the day was spent watching the horrific events of the day unfold before my eyes live.

At the time of JFK the coverage available to the public was utterly incomparable as to what we are able to experience today. Our generation experienced the breath by breath unfolding of a man-made and premeditated catastrophe. It is the man-made element that strikes us in the heart so much. The fact that such an atrocious plot could be conceived and seen through. The fact that we can watch such calamitous events by the moment in our own homes shocks everyone and allows us to experience the event as opposed to simply reading about it and visualising the scene.

I read something earlier in the week that questioned our reaction to 9/11 and made comparisons to the Boxing Day Tsunami….the article (I don’t remember where) was rather critical of our overwhelming reaction to 9/11 when the tsunami killed far more people. But frankly the numbers killed are not the point of focus. It is how and why. I think the key element here is the cause. We are programmed to expect and accept ‘acts of god’ or ‘acts of nature’ as we call them. They are not things that we can control or prevent, but simply perhaps prepare and limit the consequences of. 9/11 was purely man-made. And it is that fact that is so awesomely frightening to us and so abhorrent hat a group of men can sit and patiently plan the massacre of thousands of innocent lives…and to achieve what? Yes they have terrorised the world and scarred the lives of many, but our resolve and strength remains. What did they actually achieve for their cause?

The main achievement in my eyes is the worldwide union of people and nations against these forces of evil. Our defiance to be brought down and to surrender our freedom. Our resilience and willingness to ensure our liberty and democracies live on, stronger than ever.

The wounds of untimely loss never truly go away. You simply learn to accept and cope, carrying the scars forevermore. I personally understand this.

The pools ‘Reflecting Absence’ at Ground Zero are a beautiful and fitting tribute to these losses. A subtle and touching way to embody the gaping holes left both physically and emotionally by the twin towers.

It is important to remember that 9/11 is also the beginning of the chain of decisions and events that have led to our troops being in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are still experiencing losses ultimately due to 9/11 in the here and now.

I travel reasonably frequently and have to say that when queued at airport security with two young boys having to remove half my clothing, my footwear, and get out my laptop and various other electrical items, I do often get rather harassed and tetchy…..9/11 is the reason why and I will do my very best to remember this on future occasions and use the time queuing to reflect on the loss of all those innocent lives.

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