Today marks the 20th anniversary of the infamous terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001. Today, people around the world will pause to remember 9/11 – that terrible day twenty years ago.
Almost 3,000 people from 90 countries lost their lives when two hijacked planes were crashed into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center, causing their total collapse and the deaths of thousands, with another hijacked plane crashing into the Pentagon in Washington DC. A further hijacked plane crashed into the ground in Pennsylvania after passengers fought the hijackers on board. It’s hard to imagine the terror in the final seconds of life for everyone on those aircraft.
Time may have dimmed the sharp pain and anguish of that day, but the memory lingers.
That’s my perspective as an observer, someone like many who heard the news on that day in 2001 of what was happening in New York from afar via live TV broadcasts. Those reports – at first a trickle and then a torrent – gradually built up the horror as the details of what was happening emerged right in front of our eyes.
Who can forget the sight of a jet smashing at high speed into one of the twin towers and exploding in a huge fireball? Or people falling, some jumping, from the towers to their deaths far below? Or the dramatic and rapid collapse of a tower in billowing clouds of dust and ash?
All of this live and in real time, via the TV. While cellphones played a big role in enabling personal communication during and after the attack, networks were quickly overwhelmed. No Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, or YouTube then, no smartphones with cameras, no ubiquitous wifi and everyone connected, no always on, just the mainstream media that reached the masses.
I am remembering that day.