*DISCLAIMER: I don’t mean to offend anyone with these posts. I just feel this is the best way to express my perspective of the September 11 terror attacks, and what they have meant ever since. If you come across something that offends you, don’t bother reading the rest of the post, as I’m sure something else I’ve said will irritate you further.*
I was 13 when it happened.
Life wasn’t great, but I had plenty to smile about. I had my music, my mountain biking and my matchbox cars. No doubt I’d stayed up late the night before listening to the flash new portable stereo I spent all year saving for. I figured out how to use it as a clock radio, so I would be woken up with the news at 7am like anyone twice my age. I would hear some news, listen to the local breakfast show while was getting up and dressed, have breakfast, say goodbye to my parents, don my headphones and trudge out the door to face another day at Twizel Area School.
This morning, though, was unlike any other I have ever had.
The radio woke me as usual, but instead of catching the last thirty seconds of the latest pop hit, there was a news report about terrorists flying a plane into something called the ‘World Trade Centre.’ Being a high country hick child from what is now one of the most popular backwaters in New Zealand I thought someone had taken a Cessna and run it into a big warehouse not unlike the massive orange hardware store you can spot from anywhere in my current hometown. Therefore I simply brushed the report off, ready to go on with the process of waking up.
Then mum came to the door.
Now, due to some other issues that were going on in ’01 I was kind-of used to seeing my mother in a state of distress, but this was different. The look on her face was like nothing I’d ever seen all year, or indeed before. With a quivering, truly upset voice she told me and my sisters in their bedroom next door, to ‘come out and look at the TV, now.’ I suspected this had something to do with the ‘cessena flying into a warehouse’ news report I had just heard, so I sauntered out into the lounge, sat down in front of our old CRT TV…
and watched the world start to end.
I said on Twitter earlier today that I still can’t believe what I saw on that old, flickering screen that morning. A group of people had taken control of two massive jet airliners full of people, and flown them straight into two of the most iconic buildings in New York. Those planes were full of people, those buildings were full of people. The ground was full of people, all of us staring in skock, disbelief, and abject terror at what we had just seen. My sisters were just staring at the TV in shock like I was. My mum was sobbing inconsolably on the shoulder of my dad who just stood there silent as a stone and watched. It didn’t make any sense to me. Why would anyone choose to take all that human life just to prove a point!? Surely they could have kidnapped the President, or at least had some kind of ransom demand, so that the hundreds of innocents on the places and in the towers could get out of such a situation alive and unharmed. My little thirteen year-old brain just couldn’t comprehend why someone would deliberately choose to kill so many people, even though I may not have liked what the United States represented.
We did go to school that day, but we spent it just watching continuous newscasts of the attack. The same images being replayed over and over again, as if they were being nailed into our minds, hammered home that this was a day the world would never ever forget. We talked about it with our teachers, and even some of them were at a loss to comprehend this shocking attack. As I recall we were all let go early to go home to our parents and even the rowdy kids that you would’t have pegged to even care in the slightest walked or rode their bikes home in a state of shock.
On September 13 (it was the 12th for us when the attacks occured, thanks to the time difference) the little town of Twizel began to return to normal again, but as was the case everywhere nothing quite fit into place. Nothing was quite right with the world after September 11 2001, and after the Novacane of shock wore off we all started to see people beginning to hurt…
To be continued…