I had intended to write something on Monday, and in the end, totally ran out of time. It’s been five years since the terrorist attacks on September 11th. I remember that day so vividly, it was just so surreal yet horrifying. Surreal in that it looked like something from a far fetched Hollywood movie, not real life. I think only in the days and weeks after, and in reading the press reports of survivors tales and some witness reports of those who weren’t so lucky, that it really started to hit home.
I’ll always compare the events to the assassination of JFK. You remember exactly where you were when you heard the news. For me, 9/11 was my generation’s JFK. A moment in time when the innocence ended. A moment in time when the seriousness of adult life really smacks you in the face. The tough decisions people have to take. I remember being in Boots in Manchester looking for razor blades when I got the call. At that stage, I had no idea of what was to come the rest of the day. Our internet link at work melted as everyone wanted any scraps of information. Phones rang, people gathered round and chattered. Everything stopped while we looked on.
I’m struck by the story of the chef from the WTC rooftop restaurant who decided there was no way out and he wasn’t being burned alive. He took the decision to jump to his certain death. If you’ve ever seen photos from the top of the WTC towers, you’ll have some sense of the height of them and what thoughts must go through your mind before you take the decision to go over the side. Apparently his family took comfort from the fact that he took control of his own circumstances just before he died.
Bin Laden is a qualified engineer and apparently never budgeted for the towers coming down, it was just a bonus for him that they did. I also read that his sole intention was to suck the US and others into war against the Middle East and Islam which would never end and draw clear lines between one demographic and another. He won, if you look at it that way.
Since then, thousands of innocent men, women and children have died. Allied service men, Iraqi and Afghan nationals. I don’t condone for a second what the terrorists did, but you have to ask if George Bush is just as bad. He also goes under the banner of religion, Christianity being his badge of choice. Even Blair has attached himself to it, claiming “God will judge him” on whether the invasion of Iraq was right or wrong. Sometimes it can take the most courage to step back, take a deep breath, take a little time and do the right thing. Iraq was never the right thing, and you might argue that nothing has been gained in Afghanistan.
One of the best things to come out of the IRA attacks on the British mainland was the attitude that we all have to carry on, you can’t really protect yourself from a terrorist attack, they are too opportunistic. Generally speaking, we let them do their thing and when they see that we are outraged but we don’t get sucked in, we claim the moral high ground and some manner of victory.
There will always be wars and always be religion, if you are belligerent, it matters not which flag you fly.