Ten years ago, on Tuesday September 11, I was in Paris for our pre-wedding honeymoon, with Mr soon-to-be-BG. We had just visited the Musee D’Orsay for the second time in three days, and were heading back to our hotel. CNN was the only English -language channel and we switched it on to see one of the World Trade Centre’s twin towers smoking. The news presenters were talking of the airspace in the United States being closed down and another incident at the Pentagon. It was an unreal situation, as if we had walked in mid-way into a conversation. Five minutes later, we saw the second plane hit the tower.
Elsewhere, my friend Aurora was taping The West Wing for us while we were on holiday. Staying up, she caught the same thing on TV which felt like was out of the West Wing.
We were all mesmerised and kept watching, witnessing the collapse of the North Tower, and the hole in the Pentagon. Finally we went out in search of an Internet cafe, to try and find out more of what happened and to send a message back home, that we were okay.
The homepage of Ninemsn was blank of news- this was so big and new and raw that journalists weren’t completely on top of the situation (that and the fact that it was early Wednesday morning, Australian time). Talking to a couple of Americans in the cafe, my impression was they were stunned and shell-shocked. They had no idea why anyone would do such a thing.
Airport security had substantially increased as we left Paris a couple of days later, and travelling in Orkney, we were amazed to see police carrying guns and wearing flak jackets while on patrol. Considering that the greatest threat to security would have been a couple of crazed sheep, the word that sprung to mind was overkill. Nevertheless, there was a sense of ‘if it could happen in New York, it could happen anywhere’.
Staying with the lovely Ms S and Mr S in London we caught up with more of the story from newspapers. Bits of the story were beginning to emerge, with horrific photos that will stay with me forever.
The memories have faded, but reading about what people have lost through 9/11 brings it all back. My heart goes out to those who lost a family member, a friend or a work colleague, to those who are still affected by what happened 10 years ago.