Monday, September 12, 2011

Ten years on, Connelly and others remember 9/11

While the calendar has ticked over, here in New Zealand, overseas it is still September 11 - a date that carries so much more meaning than simply a month and a number. 

A decade after the tragic events that made the day go down in history, and changed the world forever, commemorations have been held, all around the globe. Although centred on New York and Washington, DC, it was much more than an American tragedy, and it rocked the entire world. Much like my parent's generation can starkly remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard JFK had been assassinated, I think my generation will still be able to recall, well into our dotage, where we were when we heard, or saw, that planes had crashed into the World Trade Center.

In New Zealand, I'd just returned from a university party, and unable to sleep, in the wee small hours of the morning, I turned on my computer to look up some sports news etc. Bizarrely, the CNNSI sports website had a picture of smoke billowing from a skyscraper. Confused, I momentarily thought I'd put in the wrong website address. When I tried again, the same thing. Ditto the ESPN website. It dawned on me that something much bigger than sports had just happened. I raced to the lounge and turned on the TV - and then found myself tranfixed, stuck to the couch, unable to peel myself away over the next few hours. Needless to say, any effects of the earlier party wore off very quickly. I was shocked, and trying to process just what this all meant. I saw the towers come down, live, while many other Kiwis slept. I vaguely knew of a handful of people in New York, friends of friends, and worried for their safety. I was so far away, it wasn't even my country, and it just seemed so unreal, but I still felt so wound up about it, as the story unfolded as reports and more information flooded in over the hours and days ahead.

It really is something I will never forget, and nor should I. 2,977 innocent people lost their lives that day, and many hundreds of thousands more have been directly affected by the events of that day, and the consequences since.

Here in New Zealand we are of course currently hosting one of the biggest sporting events in the world, the Rugby World Cup (reportedly the third biggest sporting event, globally, after the Olympics and FIFA World Cup). It was September 11 yesterday, and the US rugby team was playing their first game. A commemorative church service was held before the game, which the US team attended, and there were also other services and memorials - such as from New Zealand fire fighters, remembering their US colleagues who fell a decade ago, trying to save the lives of others - around the country.

The New York Daily News has spoken to a number of authors, including leading crime writer Michael Connelly, about their feelings, and memories, of 9/11. Connelly had meant to be heading to Paris on 10 Sept, but was grounded in Cincinnati, so woke to the news on American soil. You can read his thoughts, and those of the other authors, in the article here.

Do you remember where you were, ten years ago?

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