Tuesday, September 13, 2011

9/11 Remembered

Map of Four Flights on 9/11 (U.S. National Archives)
This month marks the 10th anniversary of September 11,  2001, a time for families, friends and others to reflect on the loss of nearly 3,000 people killed during the ter-rifying attacks on the symbols of  American prosperity and  power. Four planes were hijacked; two destroyed the Twin Towers in New York, one plane dived into the Pentagon in Washington DC, and the other crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. That day was not only a terrible day for the families affected; it marked a watershed in U.S. history. This was the first time ever the U.S. had been attacked on its soil, and at the beginning of the 21st century, this day would be.......

the dawn of a new era with the war on terror, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and increased tension between Islamists and Western values throughout the world.
Although 10 years have passed, to me 9/11 still feels like yesterday. Even today I can feel the impact of the incredible images of planes flying into buildings and the heartbreaking pictures of people jumping out of buildings. I still remember vividly what I did that infamous day. The night before, I had boarded a plane leaving New York John F. Kennedy airport on my way to a vacation on the Adriatic coast of Croatia. Upon my arrival on the afternoon of 9/11 – which was early morning in the U.S. - I had just planted myself on the beach enjoying the Mediterranean summer sun, when I overheard a waiter talking to fellow hotel guests about a plane that crashed in New York. That didn’t sound good, but I had no idea yet what this meant. When twenty minutes later the same waiter told us about a second plane crashing in New York, I knew something was really wrong and I went to my hotel room and turned on CNN . I couldn’t believe my eyes when they kept showing images of planes flying into the World Trade Center. What was going on? Why did the planes crash into these buildings? Was this the beginning of a war? What was happening to the people in the buildings? What to the people on the ground? What to my friends and colleagues in New York?

I started calling my office in New York, and friends working in the World Trade Center and in the downtown area of the city. Every time I called, I heard the phone ringing and voicemails turning on. I could not speak to anyone.  I stayed glued to my TV screen, and CNN, ubiquitous in hotel rooms around the world, proved its value by seemingly being everywhere where the disasters were unfolding. Images were shown, theories proposed by pundits, however real answers and explanations were still lacking. When within an hour and half of the first plane crashing into the World Trace Center, the towers started collapsing, I felt sick in my stomach with fear, anguish, and disbelief. My fear for friends in New York grew worse by the minute. Shocked I was, but not yet aware how this day would change the U.S. and the world for years to come. Shocked I was, but I still did not realize that a dear friend of mine, Ingeborg Lariby, a fellow Dutch compatriot with a inspiring love for New York City, who had just moved with her company Regus to new offices in the World Trade Center, had perished. I still remember to this day, that I called her cell phone and then her home phone, leaving messages hoping that she was well, and asking her to call me back to let me know. She never did.

10 years later, I remember 9/11, and Ingeborg, and wonder, what good, if anything, has come out of this tragedy.

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