Remembering September 11

I’ve been wanting to write a poem to mark the 6th anniversary of September 11 but I wasn’t able to finish it in time to post it today. I couldn’t get it to sound the way I wanted it to… to say everything… and then today I came across this video and I think I understand why. I remember 9/11 as such a visual moment; the images are burned into my mind and I don’t think words can capture the tragedy of that day the way images can. This video is one of the most moving memorials I’ve seen… I pass it on, in the hope that you will too.

It seems incredible that it’s been 6 years. I still remember it so clearly. I’d just come out of the shower and the TV was on; it was the first time I can remember our stations crossing live to join a US network’s coverage. I remember seeing the smoke… and a minute later saw the second plane crash into the South Tower. It felt surreal, like I was watching it happen but was somewhere else. When the towers collapsed I remember trying to speak, to shout… but couldn’t. It was the first time I’d cried in a long time.

You often hear about moments that changed the world and in many ways it’s something of a misnomer. No one moment really changes the world because there’s much more which goes into making it; it’s our reaction that gives a “moment” its power. And yet 9/11 is really an example where it’s true. On a beautiful day, concrete buildings were brought crashing to the ground and a country was brought to its knees. And thousands of families experienced a hurt that will never go away.

I remember being angry, but with time’s passing it’s more a sadness now. One thing I remember clearly is the next day, September 12, my mother coming back from the doctor and telling me about a conversation she had overhead in the waiting room. 6 people had been talking about the attacks and saying how America had brought them on itself. I still don’t understand that. 3,000 innocents died that day, people who woke up that morning not knowing they would never see another day. Disagree with foreign policy, but please don’t diminish their memory.

I’ll be lighting a candle tonight in memory and I offer my thoughts to every American, one friend to another. May we never forget. And to everyone who lost someone that day, and to everyone that survived, I hope you find peace.

5 thoughts on “Remembering September 11

  1. CJ,
    Thank you so much for what you said. To know that someone on the other side of the world understands and feels the same as we did, we do means more than you can know.

    CJ: Annie, it was the least I could do. I believe that day affected everyone and how I felt, how I still feel, will stay with me for the rest of my life. I have friends in the US and I can only imagine what living through that day must have been like, reliving it each year… my thoughts are with you, always.

  2. finally, your permalink is working on my end!

    you know, there is a new tag at wordpress – 9/11- at the very top. i believe your post (and mine also) should be posted under this tag for better visibility. if only my admin area was accessible now………damn i want to do a trackback 🙁

    CJ: Thank goodness, I was starting to think I’d have to ask support or in the forums! Right now I just noticed that my blog doesn’t have the usual WP favicon either, so maybe there are few things going on in the backend we don’t know about.

    Well spotted with the 9/11 tag, btw. I’ve updated the post, though it’ll still be buried under several hundred other posts no doubt. 😉

  3. I know you posted this three weeks ago now, but on the 9/11 anniversary I could not bring myself to read or post about it, even though it’s been six years. I wanted you to know I appreciated your compassion. I live far to the west of where the events took place, but I have family in New York and New Jersey, and of course the world was represented in the towers. As a choral singer I participated in this on the first anniversary: –one of the more moving activities I’ve experienced. We had choruses from every time zone in the world including Australia!). Anyway, thanks for this post. It is valued by your global community.

    CJ: A few of my friends in the US feel the same way. The nearer it gets to an anniversary, the more difficult it is to take it all in, or the media blitz is everywhere and it’s impossible to escape it… in the end the date is about reflection and people should be able to pause and remember as they want to, paying respects in their own way. We have the 5th anniversary of the Bali Bombings later this month; for me it’s a time of quiet reflection, but for others the feeling is still raw… hopefully the families will find some peace on the day and can be left to grieve.

    I hadn’t heard of the Rolling Requiem before. What a beautiful tribute, a real gesture of love and remembrance. Must have been amazing to have been a part of. You know if next year you feel like writing something about 9/11, that would be a really interesting angle, your memories of participating in the Rolling Requeim, the message you took from that. I know I’d be interested in reading it. 😉

  4. Excellent post, CJ, and I feel the pain of all the families affected by 9/11.

    And yet, standing back with the benefit of the perspective afforded by those six years, perhaps we shouldn’t lose sight of the far wider impact of that day. Because it spawned an onslaught of further killing and revenge, all around the world.

    The carnage and chaos of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the successors to 9/11 in Madrid, London, Bali.

    The consequences have been worldwide and profound in their scope, and serving to change the way we all live. It seems that nowhere remains unaffected by change from that day. You only have to lose one hour in today’s airport security queues to recognise that much.

    We drove past the Paradise Beach Hotel in Kenya this summer – the site of a devastating attack aimed at Israelis and yet which ultimately plunged Kenya’s tourist industry into crisis for several years – a precious lifeline for a desperately poor and half-starving people, simply cut off.

    So whilst I’d agree with all your sentiments, please let’s not forget the aftermath of 9/11.

    I’m so sorry to say it, but that in many ways really is the far greater tragedy of September 11th, and it still goes on today.

    CJ: Thanks for your thoughts, Roads. I join with you regarding the impact of 9/11; there’s been so much more pain since 9/11 that it just makes it sadder, that the cycle continues again and again.

    My feeling six years on is that we’re in a position now to look back and see through the haze more than before. At the same time we shouldn’t forget that 3,000 innocent people lost their lives on that terrible day; that was why I reacted strongly to what the people said in the doctor’s office – there are questions we can ask 6 years on, but less than 12 hours after the attack what they said seemed tasteless to me; their sentiment still does. But we shouldn’t let that blind us either. I don’t mind waiting an hour at the airport but other things, like the security blanket that descended on Sydney for APEC, makes me wonder if we’ve lost what makes us who we are in the aftermath.

    I heard a brilliant song by Eskimo Joe earlier about the London Bombs… I’m not sure if I’ll ever finish my poem or make it sound the way I want it to, but that’s the kind of thing I’d love to write. I think it’s a beautiful tribute to anyone affected by terror.

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