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Friday, September 11, 2009


September 11th is a quiet day for us. In it's own way 9-11 was the Pearl Harbor of my generation. I wasn't alive for Pearl Harbor, or JFK, or Elvis dying. I was to young to know the significance of the Gulf War, or the fall of the Berlin Wall, or the fall of the USSR.

9-11 was the world event that kicked me from being a rather bright but naive child into the broader world of international concerns, politics, and awareness of the world at large. It wasn't a huge plunge, I haven't gone into politics or joined the military, or done international charity work knee-deep in mud.

But coming out of my morning class, walking across a vine laced bridge, and stopping to hear a man who was still so much a boy in a military uniform yell that "They are bombing New York," with no clue where in New York, or who THEY were... that memory sticks.

The boy grew up, and proposed a month later. We wanted to wait until after college to marry, but things were too uncertain. As we sat in classes we ran all the What If scenarios. I lived in Florida, Cape Canaveral and Patricks AFB weren't far away, what if they were bombed? What if someone we knew was in NY?

Friends struggled to get cell phones to work. Desperate lines formed, waiting for news, hovering around the TV in vigil. Candles were lit, prayers were said, and at the end of the day... life went on.

My mother called from Denver. My Uncle was in the Pentagon, he was fine, so was his finacee he'd never mentioned. They were going to elope, instead they had a large wedding eighteen months later. Other people weren't so lucky.

Today the flag is flying at half-staff. Things change as much as they stay the same. And in twenty years time, when my daughter is my age, I wonder how she will view 9-11. Will it be a distant detail from the history book, half forgotten and obscured by changing views? Will the fear and anger still linger like a second Cold War? Or will time make the reasons behind such an attack clearer?

I guess we just have to wait and see.


  1. i'm 30, and 9-11 was really the first event for me, although i vaguely remember the gulf war. i, too, wonder what my daughter will think of such a life-changing event in the future. she'll likely read about it in her text book before someone mentions it to her. weird.

  2. I remember it. I was home from sixth form, watching Relic Hunter. Got a little annoyed cos the program cut out and the news came on. Saw the 2nd plane go in live...rushed downstairs telling mummy to put the tv on cos plane had gone into a building. She couldn't quite believe it, but did when the tv went on.

    Definitely the big even which changed my world. 8 years...and 4 years since the London bombings. I pray nothing else like it will happen.

  3. I remember the Berlin Wall going down. I remember Elvis dying and see so much of the same fervor over Michael Jackson's death.

    My mother-in-law's birthday is the same day as Pearl Harbour although she was born in a different year. My husband and his brothers tease her about being born on the same date because none other would match her.

    I've talked with veterans of WWII and the Korean War and many other wars. My brother-in-law was in the military and I've been a civilian worker on one of our Bases and knew people who went over to Iraq and Afghanistan and thankfully returned.

    I've seen a lot of life-changing events and each tragedy leaves me saddened that we still have people who think so little of the lives of other people that they can commit such autrocities. The hopeful events like the Berlin Wall coming down are so few and far between that they get lost in the others.

    We need more good events to happen. We also need to remember the bad ones so that we can work towards making a better world and having more good, hopeful world-altering events. That's the thought I hold close with each memory of events like Pearl Harbour and 9/11.