9/11 remembered

Twenty years ago, about this time, I arrived home. It was a particularly uneventful Tuesday. My then toddler and I had been to parent and toddler group and had walked home and were about to have a wee snuggle on the sofa watching the Tweenies. Later that evening, my friend Anne and I were going to head off for a power walk to kickstart our Autumn fitness project.

And then I turned on the telly. Instead of watching Milo, Fizz, Bella and Jake do their thing, I sat, transfixed, by the events unfolding in front of me. The toddler was more about the snuggles than the actual content on the tv so was soon asleep. I was free to take in the horror of the third plane hitting the Pentagon.

I remember being jolted by the contrast of the horror in New York and President George W Bush reading to a class of 7 year olds.

We got in just after the second plane hit the World Trade Centre. I remember it took me a while to take it in. I did something I never did – phoned my husband at work to tell him what was going on. He told his boss, who snarled at him to get on with his work, but apologised the next morning when he realised the enormity.

So many emotions – total shock at the sheer scale of murder that was taking place,  heartbreak for the people who had been killed and for their families who were watching this all unfold, horror at seeing people actually jump out of the twin towers, empathy at those running for heir lives as the towers collapsed,  fear of what could be next, not just in terms of attacks, but also the response. President Bush, elected in a highly controversial manner just 9 months before, was much less cautious and responsible in anything than his father was. I am sure I was not alone in worrying that he would bomb first and think later. In fact, he seemed to put quite a lot of thought in getting it so drastically wrong by going in to Iraq and dragging an all too compliant Tony Blair with him. The world still feels the consequences of their folly. They completely took their eyes off Russia, China, North Korea. They didn’t take the action they needed to get the economy under control and avoid the crash of 2008. And it all laid the foundations for the complete and utter mess that the world is in today.

Over the next few days, we heard the stories of those who had died, and cried at the messages of love left on answerphones by people on the planes and in the Towers. In those days we didn’t have social media, but I was involved in the Cix online conferencing community and found it really helpful to discuss things with other Lib Dems.

I remember us all being very worried about what this would mean for our Muslim friends, how we could support and stand with them in the face of all the islamophobic nastiness that was coming their way.

Not only did 9/11 make the world much less safe, it also made it less free and less respecting of human rights. ID cards, control orders, Guantanamo Bay, rendition flights, waterboarding, extra-judicial killings. All in all, an escalating scale of civil liberties nightmares

The events of 9/11 will stay with all of us who watched forever. What are your memories of that day? If you weren’t born then, what is your first recollection of hearing about it?

 

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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3 Comments

  • Cllr Pete Roberts 11th Sep '21 - 4:51pm

    I was across in Droitwich on a government complex at a meeting to talk about of all things the use of geographic data in aiding emergency response. We got into the room with a screen playing with footage of the New York skyline with the sound down and immediately shifted the channel to our laptops.

    Half an hour later our Ordnance Survey host was beckoned out of the room and at the next break told us there was no need to be concerned but the security levels on site had been moved to the highest level as there had been an incident in America.

    It was only with the radio commentary on the drive home did I realise how big the incident was and what I had been seeing as I entered the room.

  • Barry Lofty 12th Sep '21 - 1:00pm

    We were in the USA looking after two of our grandchildren while the third was being born, whilst not experiencing the trauma of so many people on that tragic day, we were closer to events than we would have wished.

  • Crispin Avon 13th Sep '21 - 12:17pm

    I was working as standby guide for a London open top sightseeing bus company. I saw the 2nd plane go into the tower, while looking through the window of a Japanese restaurant in Rupert Street. I thought it was part of some Japanese horror film, until a friend came running round the corner, from Coventry Street, to tell me what had happened. We then patched LBC into an open top bus’ speaker system, turning it into a 10 metre long radio. About 30 people came to listen to the broadcast, until we took the bus out on route, to pick up Americans, who wanted to get back to their hotels.

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