Of course, we all remember where we were and what we were doing when we caught the news of the planes flying into the Twin Towers. I remember that it was a Tuesday because my grandparents were over at our house and they always came over on Tuesday. I had just come back from Primary School (I was 10) and my grandparents told me what had happened. The second tower had already been hit so I didn’t see that famous, terrifying live footage of the plane slamming into it. I remember, as I watched some news footage, I thought in my naivety that it wasn’t such a big deal and went down to do some homework. I came back up when I’d finished about 10 minutes later (Primary school homeworks weren’t exactly challenging) and just caught the live footage of the south tower collapsing. I think it really hit home at that moment.
Years later I was in New York City on a bus tour. We drove past a building in the financial district, I forget which, and I was marveling at the sheer height and size of it. It blew me away… and then the tour guide announced that the World Trade Center was approximately TWICE the height of this building. The magnitude of the event came soaring back to me. I still haven’t forgotten the new realization I felt at that moment of the horror of that day.
Ten years later and the memories still remain almost as strongly as they were back then. There’s no doubt that the acts of these terrorists were evil, deplorable and senseless, and the 3,000 that died did not deserve it. Their families and friends didn’t deserve to lose them in such a cruel and inexplicable way. This was a blatant act of mass-murder. Yet I have found, and I mean no disrespect to anyone who has suffered from the effects of the attack, that the reason we remember it so vividly is because it happened to us. Someone attacked the West: the United States, the untouchables, the world’s largest economy, the land of hope and glory etc etc. Of course, the USA had been attacked before, ie. Pearl Harbor, and had experienced acts of terrorism such as the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing. The World Trade Center had also been the target for an earlier Al-Qaeda terrorist plot in 1993, where a bomb detonated in an attempt to bring both towers down. Yet the towers survived this attempt with only a few fatalities. I don’t think anyone believed a large-scale terrorist attack would succeed. We had too much confidence in ourselves, too much arrogance to believe that someone could dare attack the West and get away with it. The fact that it was executed almost flawlessly added more fuel to the fire of fear.
It’s ten years later and the United States are perilously close to the collapse of their economy; Britain aren’t doing much better.. The nation has been shaken by riots, the 7/7 terrorist attacks and numerous other events in the last 10 years. Our politicians have been exposed and disgraced in their attempts to justify wars by fabricating “facts,” covering up torture scandals and spending the taxpayers’ money on moats for their houses and shelters in their garden for the ducks. The amount of money that has been poured into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq from the UK and the US is outrageous and the lives that have been lost have been tragic. In many ways, the September 11th attacks resoundingly achieved their goal by bringing the West to its knees. Yet revenge is not the answer. The death of Osama Bin Laden earlier this year disturbed me greatly, and what disturbed me more was the overwhelmingly positive reaction people gave to this news. Two wrongs don’t make a right - Christ called us to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us. To quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. using words that I’m sure most of you heard in reference to Bin Laden’s death: “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.” After 10 years, billions of dollars and hundreds of lives, is the world a better place? By ridding the world of Osama Bin Laden, does this make everything right? The 9/11 attacks were monstrous and should never be forgotten. Nor should the lives of our soldiers, and nor should the many innocent Afghans slain as casualties of war. Mutual antagonism will only make things worse. I think that all over the world today, no matter what your race, religion or nationality, we should join together in remembrance of the lives lost and together, through understanding, tolerance and love, seek to make the world a better place.
Words - Adam