September 11, 2001 – The Day The Towers Fell

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The Twin Towers were destroyed on September 11, 2001. Photo: Supplied
The Twin Towers were destroyed on September 11, 2001. Photo: Supplied

It was around 8.30 am, and I jumped out of bed.

No one had woken me up, and I was going to be late for school as usual. I rushed to throw on my uniform and ran upstairs, I went into the kitchen/lounge. By this time it must have been a quarter to nine.

There’s no one home, but strangely the television was still on. Why was the news on at this time? To this day, I still don’t understand what happens in the world before 9 am.

I realised the television and the news must have been on for a good reason, and in the next five seconds I was about to understand why. On the screen there was a plane flying low in the middle of that city – that’s weird. Naively I think this must be a stunt, and I hope it doesn’t hit the nearby building – and then it did.

I watched that scene in shock, and before I had time to wonder if it was an accident my shock turned to pure horror as another plane struck the building next to it. This wasn’t an accident.

What the hell had just happened? And did anyone else know about this? That was all I could think of. By this time, I was going to be late, and I didn’t have time to process or talk to an adult. I turned everything off and raced to school as fast as I could. My teacher would know the answer.

On my walk to school, I contemplated the gravity of what I had just seen. I know now this was done on purpose… someone had attacked the most powerful country in the world, again. But the only thing in recent memory that I can recall of this magnitude was Pearl Harbour, and we’re still not done talking about it. This couldn’t be as big as that, could it?

When I get to school it’s all anyone could talk about – thank God, I’m not alone. There were solemn faces everywhere and mostly on the adults. I didn’t want to upset anyone but, I needed answers. I asked my teacher: “is this the biggest thing since Pearl Harbor?” As soon as I asked this question, my teacher’s face told me he hadn’t even considered it and his reply was a very uncertain, “it could be”.

That’s where I was the day the Twin Towers fell. On the day that will forever be known as 9/11.

Little did I know, at the tender age of thirteen that this was about to shape the rest of modern civilisation as we knew it, and it might never stop. There were so many new words to be afraid of: Al Qaeda, Osama, Bin Laden, and a new word we would never stop hearing for almost the rest of our lives… terrorism.

That’s the power of mass media, and that’s the power of news. It can travel from one end of the world to another, spreading fear and inciting panic where there was none and just as quickly replace it with hope – something we wouldn’t have for a long time coming.

Nowadays media unites us in common thought, it allows us to share the same experiences, and I like to think that sometimes it helps us feel less alone. New York did not mourn in solitude that day because half a world away we cried too.

The months after the attack on New York were tense and unnerving. Every night after 9/11 we kept vigil, glued to our television screens wondering, “are we next?” The social landscape forever augmented as the world felt like a scary place again, even at home in our back yards, the unknown was what scared us the most.

Every attack since then seemed related, a retaliation, a provocation, a declaration of war. Bali was next, and in 2005 London followed. Terrorism was alive and well, and we had every reason to fear it.

Almost fifteen years later the war on terror is coming to an end and under a new administration America is slowly putting itself back together.

The gaping holes on Manhattan Island finally healed and where two majestic icons once stood the 1 World Trade Center now takes its place beside them. It is younger, taller, and more beautiful. It stands proud and strong, and it reminds us that we are not defined by the things that happened to us, we are not shaped by those who seek to destroy us but that we will always be remembered for the way we choose to rise above.

Six towers, a 9/11 memorial and museum, a mall, a transportation hub, a parking lot, a park, and a church are to eventually occupy the new World Trade Center, and as of March 2015 the site is under varying states of construction and completion.

The “Freedom Tower” is joined by what will be the 2, and 3 World Trade Centers slated for completion in 2021 and 2018, respectively. The 4 World Trade Center building stands completed in its shadow, with the 5 World Trade Center building still in development.

The 7 World Trade Center building, located just north of the World Trade Center stands completed, replacing the original that stood in its place. Although not technically part of the 16-acre WTC development but sharing a name 7WTC, was the first tower rebuilt after the attacks when fires damaged the original during the fall out of the nearby North Tower’s collapse in 2001.

Today New York stands proud, ready to face what comes next and undaunted by those who failed to bring it down.

Those beautiful buildings were taken from all of us that day. Those stolen landmarks boasted as the world’s tallest will forever be iconic. I never realised how often we saw them until we never saw them again.

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