Like most people over the age of around 20 or so, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing at the moment it all went down. It’s my generation’s JFK, really (I am way too young to know what I was doing when JFK was shot – not even born yet!), and 13 years on, whenever I think about those moments, it still catches in the back of my throat and makes my eyes prick a little. It was terrifying and horrifying and it changed the whole world forever.
It was lunchtime here in the UK, and I was an evening worker, so I was at home. Hubby (who was still only my Boyfriend at the time), was at work, and I was was making use of the time to get caught up on all the stuff I needed to do on the computer, as I knew full well that as soon as he got home, he’d want to use it. In the background, a movie was playing on the television. I have no idea what film it was – I wasn’t paying attention – it was on to keep me company.
At some point, I became aware that the film was no longer on the screen. Perhaps it had finished without me noticing, but it looked like it had been replaced with a disaster movie set in New York.
Then I realised. This was no movie. This was a news bulletin that had broken through the scheduled viewing. This was something that was happening in real life. Right now.
My eyes were glued to the screen as I saw smoke billowing out of one of the World Trade Centre towers. I was still motionless and staring at the screen when the second plane hit. I was still watching when the towers started crumbling and falling.
At some point, I became aware that my face was wet. I’d been crying and hadn’t even noticed. I was so horrified that there was no sound coming from me – I was just silently crying.
Then I desperately tried to call Hubby at work, to see if he knew this was happening. They usually had the radio on at work, so surely he would know.
Of course, he did. Everyone knew. People all over the world were turning on TV sets and radios and logging online, alerted by friends and family that something unprecedented was happening. America was under attack and the Twin Towers had been hit. The Pentagon had been hit. The bloody Pentagon, for crying out loud! The Pentagon had a bloody great hole in its side instead of just the one in the top. Someone had crashed a plane right into it. There was another plane coming down. People were leaping from the Twin Towers, trying to escape the only way they could, even though there was no way they could possibly survive the fall – all sense of rationality erased by the horror surrounding them. Nobody knew exactly what was happening. It was utterly incomprehensible.
It still is.
Thirteen years since the “War on Terror” began – and there’s still no end in sight. We still have suicide bombers from all walks of life, and people being killed left, right, and centre, and countries constantly having “alerts” to imminent threats.
It’s like the towers are still falling.
It seems like they’ll never stop.