Monday, September 11, 2006
5 Years On
So, have we become saturated in coverage of the incident that we are now desensitised to it? Have we become detached from the reality of what happened, simply because we have seen and heard so much about it, that we feel less of the horror and that, it's not our problem any more?
Yesterday, a writer friend of mine, who lives in New York, said in her blog, Ink In My Coffee, "I think the majority of the world has seen the planes hit the towers so often that its impact is softening. And that's dangerous."
I disagree, and I'll tell you why.
The world in which we live changed that day on September, in many obvious and less tangible ways.
The war on terror began, with the west uniting in horror against the "tyrants of evil and oppression". We invaded other nations and the whole point of why we went to war became greyed out. This is an observation, not a justification, but the point I am making is, we were side-tracked by the media and government spin in their justifying the war on terror, that the spotlight slowly changed from the impact of the Twin Towers disaster, to alleged WMD in Iraq and surrounding Arab states.
The impact of 9/11 hasn't softened, it has only been deflected.
Personally, whenever I see those images, I am thrust back to that day and to the feelings I had. I remember sitting in my office when the news came through, the internet crashing from overload, rushing home to watch the coverage on BBC News 24. It was horrifying and almost unbelievable. I remember sitting there open-mouthed, just shaking my head as they kept on showing it over and over. I felt incredible anger as I watched the celebrations of some people as the news came through, and I felt an intense unity with the people of New York.
Now when I see those images, I feel the same feelings, but anger comes much quicker than it did back then. Maybe I don't have a right to be as angry or emotional about it. I am after all, not a US or New York citizen. I'm British, and if you are reading this then hark back to the London bombings and how you felt that day. It's nothing compared to what happened in NYC, but it is equally as galling and stirs the same anger. In the words of many newspapers on the 12th September 2001, "we are all Americans now".
I am not alone in these feelings, I'm sure. People the world over still feel anger, grief, sadness and a myriad of other emotions when they see those iamges. It's still as hard to take it all in today, as it was five years ago.
I feel a stronger unity with America and indeed the whole of the Free World since 9/11. The attacks of that day brought us all together whether we like it or not, and in the face of constant terrorist threats - and they are constant - we should remember all those who defend our nations, on the front, and behind the scenes, as well as those who died on that day in September 2001.
Here's a poem, written by Mary E. Frye. It might put some of it into perspective.
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
Translate and apply this as you wish. To me it speaks of rememberance and defiance in the face of terrorism. One thing we do have in common with our American cousins, is that we will never be beaten, never lay down to terrorists, and never wave goodbye to our freedom.
I've tried to say something about unity and express some of my feelings about 9/11 in this post, but I feel I have fallen short. Such is the way when you try to some up something of such magnitude into a few paragraphs; it's simply impossible.
One day I shall visit New York, and when I do, out of duty, I shall visit Ground Zero. Perhaps my feelings are best aired in silence.
The truth is, the world will never "get over it". We simply have to find a way to live with it.
I used to sit in Borders, at the bottom of one of the towers, sometimes, writing and having coffee, and looking out at an old churchyard across the street, from Revolutionary Times, I believe. That church and all the graves were crushed and is rarely mentioned. We lost a great deal of our past as well as what was lost in the present moment.