11 september 2005

Memories of 9/11 (De andere kijk)

Today, 4 years ago, terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers, hit the Pentagon, but, thanks to the heroism of the passengers of flight 93, failed to strike another target in Washington.

I spent five days in New York in May/June 2001, just a few months before the attacks. On 29 May, after I had visited Liberty and Ellis island, I walked along the beautiful esplanade from Battery Park to the World Trade Center. At first I couldn’t really find the Twin Towers as they were hidden behind the other big buildings of the World Trade Center. But then I came out on Liberty Street and suddenly I saw these huge towers in front of me. It was a colossal view. I lifted my head, but it seemed to me that I couldn’t see all the way up to the top even how hard I tried. I entered the South Tower and took the elevator which brought me in a few seconds to the Observation deck on the 107th floor. I looked through the small windows and the whole of Manhattan lay at my feet. I could see the North Tower with the antenna on its roof. The sky was dark and clouded as evening approached and as thunder and lightning rocked the air. It was an awesome view. You could see the cabs that, like yellow ants, swarmed through the streets. 411 meters above the ground, you couldn’t hear the noise that they were making. I was thinking: if man can build these Towers, there is nothing that he isn’t capable of. Little did I know that, 4 months later, 10 men in two planes would destroy what other men had built.

On 01/09/11 I was busy at work when I heard that something “had happened” in New York. I don’t remember if I heard exactly what had really happened. I don’t know whether that is because of my confusion or my disbelief. As soon as I could, I went home or better I rushed home. It was only when I saw the images of the plane hitting the South Tower and of the Two Towers cracking down, that it really sank in. I was enraged, furious.... This should not go unpunished. That day, or was it a few days later, I looked for the American Stars and Stripes that I had bought years ago and hung it against a wall in my room. I promised myself that I would return to New York.

I kept my promise. Two years after my first trip to New York, I went back making a stopover on my way home after a two-week tour along the Western Coast. On 9 June 2003, I came from the other side, from Church Street, upon the site where the Two Towers used to stand. All the time I was trying to imagine citizens, policemen, firemen running to help other people or to escape death. I started to walk round the big hole, I looked at the plates at the fence telling about the Towers, about what had happened, bearing the names of those who were killed. It felt so unreal: the Two Towers were no longer there. I made myself another promise: If they build another tower, I will come back, again.

Today I wanted to tell my personal story about 9/11 without all the politics. This is a day of remembrance. In this respect, I would like to recommend the following:
- a chronology of events according to the 9/11 Commission Report presented in 4-way split screen
- the book ‘102 Minutes’ by NYT-journalists Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn

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