I was at work, doing my office-based 9-5 routine, aged just 19. It was another ordinary day, until my colleagues and I began to receive word of a terrible incident unfolding in New York. The news that day was chaotic and it seemed unreal and impossible. As the tragic events developed we all came to learn that thousands of people had died in a deliberate terrorist attack.
The papers, the media, everything showed us the shocking, harrowing imagery of the 11th of September. Front and centre of virtually every form of publication was of the World Trade Center burning and crumbling, caking the city of New York in dust and debris. Alongside these horrific scenes was the news of the attack on the Pentagon and the downed plane in Pennsylvania. Digesting the initial events took days, even weeks, and twenty years on, can be said to be fully processed?
For the citizens of the passionate, vibrant city, 9/11 is a scar that may never fully heal. For the families of the ones who died, the attacks will always be an open wound. For many others, the attacks are the cause of a deadly sequence, leading right to the unravelling of Afghanistan over these last few weeks. The desire for retribution for that terrible day has beget yet more blood, and death, and heartache. We’ve had a cycle of revenge, which as always, leads nowhere.
After twenty years, has the world learned any lessons from that terrible day? If so, has it learned the right lessons? After twenty years, I believe we’re still feeling the aftershock of that terrible day, and will continue to do so for many years to come.
On a different note, we should remember the heroism of that day. From the passengers who took back United 93, to the first-responders who risked their lives to save others, there are tales of courage and sacrifice that must never be forgotten. We remember them, and we honour them.