How I remember September 11th 2001

I remember September 11th 2001 as if it were yesterday. I was sitting in the office working as usual when one of my colleagues sent me a link over IM to a Swedish news web page. I clicked the link but didn’t get in since the web site failed to respond. I went over to his desk and asked what it was all about.

A plane has just crashed into the World Trade Center.

The year before, during the summer of 2000, I had been living and working in New York City, so I was immediately able to grasp the implications of this. Or so I thought. Amongst all the thoughts going through my head, one was of the plane that crashed into the Empire State Building, long ago, and how such a similar thing would affect one of the twin towers.

At this time we had no idea what kind of plane had hit the tower, or even if there had been a pilot or if it had been remotely controlled. I can’t remember how things went from there, but if my memory serves me right the second tower was also hit before we could even begin to feebly understand what was going on. We got into our conference room and turned on the TV and, in a state of shock, followed what happened.

We got to see that it was indeed a regular airline passenger plane that hit the second tower, and there also came in a report of a plane that had crashed into Pentagon. I remember just thinking:

What the fuck is going on?!

and also a feeling of being very very afraid, since nobody knew what the hell was going down. It felt like the end of the Western civilization: Internet didn’t work and no news channel could report what was really happening; all they could do was to broadcast horrible things happen in highly unlikely places.

One thing that annoyed the hell out of me was that, this exact day, the very small company I was working for had just landed their first big contract and the sales man had bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate it. And even after they saw on the TV what was happening, all they could feel was joy over the contract they had acquired. I think that, in the end, only three of them celebrated; the sales man and two of his friends. Kudos to the three owners, who had put their lives into this company, that they didn’t celebrate but actually understood the seriousness of the moment and how extremely unimportant the contract was in the big whole. I also remember some taunting phrase, when I refused to celebrate with them, saying I wouldn’t have cared about this at all if it had happened in the Arabic world. Let me tell you: I definitely don’t celebrate something when death has occurred, no matter in what part of the world it happened.

Upset over this and worried about my two friends I had in NYC, I left work and meet up with my closest friend, Henrik, to walk home to the part of Stockholm where I lived. Before I met him I remember calling my parents, who were on their way home from Europe and sitting in their car when I reached them. I explained what had happened and all I knew at that point, and they could hardly believe it was true.

I met up with Henrik and we started our journey to the south part of the Stockholm center. It took about one hour in our leisurely pace, although our lack of speed was most likely from our state of shock than being slow. For all the walk the rain was pouring down, and I remember thinking about it as if the sky was actually crying. Henrik and I parted ways and I went into the local convenient store to buy some groceries and was simultaneously talking to my brother Martin over the phone. He then introduced me to the theory about Usama Bin-laden, the first time (at least as I can recall) I ever heard that name mentioned; in the following months it would be a name that came up a countless number of times.

Later that night I got a hold of one of my friends in NYC, and the day after I got a hold of the other, so at least they were safe. The following days I, as the rest of the world, followed every news broadcast to try and learn more about what had really happened. I also became painfully aware how this would remove some of the innocence from peoples’ view of the world, how the diabolical plan of hijacking plans with passengers would affect airline traffic and peoples’ fear of flying and how any Muslim in the world would be looked down upon and be in danger just because of his/her faith.

Knowing oneself

While I, naturally, don’t support the attacks in any way, something have to be mentioned about certain persons’ view of them. Today I read that Michael Bloomberg expressed his opinion on the reasons USA had been attacked that day (quote loosely translated from a Swedish newspaper):

I believe the major reason for the September 11th attacks were that the US is a free country where everyone can practice the religion of their choice and express any opinions they have, and some people don’t like that.

How naive. And narrow minded. I think what’s important for the US government as well as the American population is to apply some self distance and self awareness to the whole situation. The attacks were not committed out of jealousy; go through the history to see what the US have also done to muslims and the Arabic world before the attack. Any terrorist attack is a terrible thing, but I also think that it’s vital to try and find the main motivator for why the terrorists go through with their actions in the first place.

The future

The way it seems now, what happened September 11th changed the world for all future. It has bred a mistrust between different races and religions, and the world seems to me to be a less safer place than before. My only hope is that a peaceful way can be found for addressing the current situation, because the escalating level of violence that has been present since then has definitely not helped.

I will never forget September 11th.

15 Comments

  • Being an Australian and a hundred million miles away, I have to honestly say that I couldn't care less about the event at the time.

    It was my birthday at the time, I woke up, went to watch cartoons (hey, don't be teasin' those crappy cartoons!) and all I saw was the bloody news. Now I was pissed.

    Went to school, everyone was going on like retards about "omfg wtf WW3".

    All my childishness aside, I now realise how much of an impact it has really had on not just America, but the world.

  • Ray says:

    9/11 has had impact on international politics, Europe and the US have a defense organisation called NATO. However not all EU countries agreed on Iraq, therefore US foreign policy especially in the Middle East. Before EU followed US more blindly.

    All civilians that where killed in all wars, How many people have died, it must be milions and millions. All rationale stops here, only grief starts. It never can be excused.

  • <blockquote cite="http://www.robertnyman.com/2006/09/11/how-i-remember-september-11th-2001/"&gt;…I also think that it’s vital to try and find the main motivator for why the terrorists go through with their actions in the first place.

    The implication here is that there is some justification for the attack. The motivator is irrelevant. It's simple. Muslim extremists hate America and Americans. It is evil.

    As a footnote: The conflict in the middle east is not new…and America didn't start it. It existed before America. This conflict has existed since there were Muslims and Jews.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Hayden,

    Congratulations on your birthday then.

    Ray,

    All civilians that where killed in all wars, How many people have died, it must be milions and millions. All rationale stops here, only grief starts. It never can be excused.

    I couldn't agree more.

    Shane,

    The implication here is that there is some justification for the attack. The motivator is irrelevant. It’s simple. Muslim extremists hate America and Americans. It is evil.

    In my opinion, that's a very dangerous mindset. It is far to easy to dismiss it like jealousy/hate or whatever. I would say it's extremely important to know why someone would do something like that. Not for the sake of justifying it, but for prevention and understanding. Know your enemy.

  • Chris says:

    Hi Robert,

    I don't want to disregard the victims of 9/11. It was a horrible crime wich is not tolerable.

    But my thought, as I saw the images on TV, was "OMG, how will the US react on this attack?"

    I get very upset, when people care about the victims of 9/11 (as I wrote, please don't misunderstand, I do care, too) and do not care about the thousands civilians murdered by US in Afghanistan. And do not care about the tens of thousands killed in Iraq – in a war which was a crime according to international law. And do not care about the innocent People detained and tortured in Abu-Ghuraib, Guantanamo and elsewhere.

    9/11 was unjust woe. But the reaction was more unjust and caused more deaths.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Chris,

    No problem, I definitely understand what you're saying. The other day I read that there has been at least 43 000 casualties in Iraq since the war started, and of course it's not comparative to the number of people killed September 11th.

    I think that victims, no matter in what part of the world it is, should be regarded with equal respect.

  • I would say it’s extremely important to know why someone would do something like that. Not for the sake of justifying it, but for prevention and understanding. Know your enemy.

    @Rob – You make a good point. Knowing your enemy is indeed a wise thing.

    I brought it up because there are those who look towards this angle with the intention of blaming America. This would be the same as blaming a rape victim because she wore a low-cut shirt. It's ridiculous…and yet there seem to be many who believe it.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Shane,

    I don't think it's that simple either… In such a situation you can't put the blame on just one party. America has some blame to take, at least in the eye of the terrorists. But in the end, no matter where in the world something happens, the perpetrator/-s is the one/-s with the ultimate responsibility.

  • I was on top of the south tower just weeks before the attacks. That morning, I arrived at work and my friend/co-worker Steve said "a plane hit the World Trade Center!" I said whatever, thinking it might have been a Cessna that lost its way in the fog or something. How wrong I was. We also gathered in the conference room and watched CNN all day. Seeing the second jet plow into the north tower was absolutely horrific. I will never forget that day as long as I live.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Douglas,

    Thanks for sharing.

    Through the living room window of the apartment I was living in, in Greenwich Village, I saw the towers every day, and I visited them a number of times. Hard to fathom that they're gone.

  • Rob K says:

    Robert

    Although agreeing with posters sentiments about the iraq / afghan wars, I have problems with the comment..

    "Go through the history to see what the US have also done to muslims and the Arabic world before the attack"

    Nothing in particular comes to mind. Ask me what happened that day (9/11). I'll tell you. Ask me what the Americans had done to the Islamic world prior to this, I'd be hard pushed to recall.

    You are right to say that you cannot make oversimplistic comments about causes, and that you should know your enemy. Having said this, I still strugle to see what made these people the enemy of American values and beliefs; as American language, culture, history and judicial practice were largely forged in my country, presumably makes them enemies of me also.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Rob K,

    As we agree, it's hard to dig too deep into causes in comments here, but just to bring up a couple of things the US have been involved in in the Arabic World prior to September 11th:

    Beirut

    The Gulf War

    Also, the American support for Israel and how the Palestinians react to that can be an underlying factor.

    I'm not saying that any of the things mentioned above were right or wrong, but that they can be part of a bigger picture of the hate directed at USA.

  • Ray says:

    Some parts of the world have US support and others dont, even in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia for instance.

    Before in the seventies we had Russians in Afgahnistan, Irak and Iran were at war. We had an oil crisis in the 70s, the OPEC countries. We see here two things: economic and military strategic intrests.

    Turkey is for instance the gate to the Middle East, always has been strategic very important.

    History can teach a great lesson!

  • fegea gea says:

    To Rob K:

    Comment removed.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    fegea,

    Sorry, your comment was removed, because I try to keep it civil here. Please write a respectful comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *