Like many people all over the world, this weekend my thoughts turn to New York. Ten years ago today we could never have imagined what the following 24 hours would bring. We went about our day, happy and carefree, or sad and depressed, Â or a combination of emotions.
Just one day later, the emotions we would feel would be shock, confusion, grief, terror.
That time of my life was a pleasant one, I was pregnant for the third time and at last I had gone past the critical 12 weeks. The two miscarriages made me nervous, wary of being too happy about my pregnancy, but gradually I was beginning to think that it would be ok. I had stopped working full time and so on that 11th September 2001, I was at home curled up on my green leather sofa having a snooze. When my husband phoned me to tell me to turn the television on, that a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York, I was at first confused. I did not know what the WTC was – amazing as it seemed later, I had never heard of the Twin Towers.
Turning on the TV, I saw a disaster movie was on. But it was on every channel. What was this? Oh, my God. It was real. How could this be? When the second plane crashed into the as yet undamaged tower, I stared uncomprehendingly at the screen. Was this new footage? As the realisation hit, around the world millions of people understood that this was no malfunction, no accident. It was an act of terror.
My memories of that day are a set of images – the shaky hand of the camera that filmed the second plane hitting, the exclamation of the person filming, the puff of glass and air when the Â plane hit, the clouds of smoke and ash when the first tower collapsed, the people who dashed into a store as the cloud drifted past, the lines of commuters walking home over the bridge, while police, ambulance and fire crews dashed in the other direction.
America was changed that day.
Did the world change too? We had known that humans were capable of ghastly acts of terror. Anyone who grew up in the 70s and 80s in UK remembers the bombings in Hyde Park and Omagh. We remember Lockerbie. We remember the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia.
Why was 9/11 different?
Was it the scale? It was so huge, so daring, so incredibly massive. The coordinated attacks that lamed America, and stopped air traffic around the world.
Perhaps it was the fact that the perpetrators of these crimes lived and studied among us, in an apartment block in Hamburg where they were seen as quiet and industrious.
Or the fact that the horror came into our homes, via 24 hour news channels (and every other channel).
For whatever reason, the aftermath of 9/11 is felt to this day.
To those who lost family and friends, and are facing tomorrow’s anniversary, the memories of that last day of innocence must be almost unbearable.
My thoughts are with them in the coming hours.