It’s amazing what defines a moment in your life.
Be it a friend coming into your work to tell you in a hushed tone “The World Trade Centre, had been bombed,” to going home and seeing exactly what happened.
I hang on to those last few hours of ignorance, from the quiet bus home to the muted atmosphere. No one wanted to say it out loud, no one wanted to admit it was gone. By saying it, it was real, and the world would never be the same.
Then again, the world has always been the same. There is no real chance of optimism when someone is always going to try to blow you up, to be the ones who take an ideology and twist it until it no longer resembles the actual message.
2001, may have been a new Millennium, but a fresh chance of making it right was never going to happen.
It’s strange to describe to the younger generations, the ones who grew up after the Twin Towers fell, that the internet on phones, was just a mere concept. There was no Facebook, no one in New York filmed it on their iPhones and uploaded it to social media. New York and the world got it in real time, and we were all confronted with the new reality.
Fifteen years ago, I was working in a toyshop and preparing to go back to University to do my BA. Today, I’m working at Heathrow and preparing to go back to do my Masters.
Looking back, I can feel the cynicism that managed to creep in, after suddenly witnessing how the world changed.
One thing I did notice was the almost lack of survivor’s stories. Who were these people that survived? What happen to them? How did they get out?
The documentary, The 9/11 Faker, in which Tania Head who was soon unmasked as Alicia Esteve Head, and whose claims of being in the Twin Towers were proved to be a deception. Did provide one grain of truth, the actual survivors of the Twin Towers felt like they were forgotten.
As if walking out of a collapsing building and watching your friends pass away in front of you, was something which could quickly be dismissed.
And they were forgotten as if they were like the dust of the Tower and could be swept away. The media, being the media focused on the more desperate, the Miracle of Stairwell B. The optimism in the rubble or the ones who had died in their offices, on a typical work day.
The more tragic your story, the more the media lapped it up. Cynical, yes. Wrong, yes. But people needed a figurehead, and these individuals were cast in the role as victims and sadly it’s a role they’ve never got over. Mentally their still standing in their offices on a sunny September day, and almost nothing will change that.
In the last few years, though, that has changed. People are coming forward, telling their stories and making it clear that their voices will not be silenced. The exceptional documentary, 9/11: Heroes of the 88th Floor, make it clear who were the heroes and there was so many.
In a world of fraudsters, there were so many people who just stood up to help, just because they could. The firefighters who died in the rubble, individuals like Frank De Martini, Pablo Ortiz and Mak Hanna who just did what they did. Heroics was the last thing on their minds, all they wanted to do was help and some paid the price with their lives.
For the rest, it was one day in their lives which they will carry for all of their lives, all the while the world watched it happen.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like. No interview or documentary can do it justice. How was it for the ones trapped about the impact points, waving out of the imploded windows for help which never came?
How desperate do you have to be, how hot does the exploding jet fuel make the walls feel, before you make the decision to jump from over a hundred floors, and to at least take control of your own death. With their deaths being labelled “blunt force trauma”.
Because no one that day set out, to jump from their place of work. No one ever expected to make the choice to stay or jump, when the outcome would always be the same.
How was it on Windows on the World on the top of the North Tower? Knowing that you’re trapped, and you don’t know the reason why?
Then again, why did this really happen? Though conspiracy theories naturally came up with the answer, because the stark reality is too hard to bare.
Thousands of people didn’t come home that day, that’s the reality. Widows, widowers, and single parents were made that day. It’s against nature to bury a child, and it’s against nature to watch it unfold on television.
In a way, it was the first media tragedy, with the moment of impact all cameras turned onto the Twin Towers. As if it was a disaster movie unfolding in real time.
Fifteen years on, has anything really changed? These documentaries keep it alive for now. Maintain the harshness and brutality of it all. But what in twenty years, or thirty, at what point will it be romanticised and satirised as tragic events always are?
Fifteen years on, and looking back we entered a “Brave New World” of cynicism and insecurity, of children born on that date to only have a few days of peace and heartbreak before Bush declared “The War on Terror.” To have inherited the world, they never asked for.
However, nothing that will ever change is this. On September 11th, 2001, four planes were hijacked. United Airlines Flight 93, crashed into a field. American Airlines Flight 77 was flown into the Pentagon and American Airlines Flight 11 impacted with the North Tower of the World Trade Centre and United Airlines Flight 175 flew into South Tower of the World Trade Centre in New York City.
At ten o‘clock in the morning on September 11th, 2001, the world was radically different.