Monday, September 11, 2006

U.S.A.: September 11th Attacks, Five Years On

I think that many of us around the world remember what we were doing on that fateful day in September 2001 that (may have) changed our world forever. I was here in Germany and had received a phone call shortly after 1500 CET from a BA operations center that something terrible had happened in New York City, that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers, “could I confirm via CNN what was going on?” I immediately brought-up video on both CNNI and BBC World to watch the Breaking News Story unfold before my eyes, by then the South Tower of the World Trade Center was also in flames and the news networks (all) were repeatedly replaying the video scenes of the jetliner crashing into and through the top floors of the WTC. Smoke and fire everywhere.

Although the reporters and newscasters on all channels were still speculating on whether the spectacle was either a terrible accident or an attack, I remember that I understood almost instantly what it was that I was seeing, what was happening to the people of New York City, and I remember that at that moment all of the strength seemed to leave my body and my legs felt like collapsing under the weight of my grief… people were being attacked (militarily) on American soil.

After confirming what I had been witnessing and hearing from the CNN and BBC and German news channels to the party on the phone and wishing them luck and Godspeed in dealing with the 10’s of thousands of frightened airline passengers that would be affected by these terrible events, I hung up. Then it struck me, Panic & Fear. Not for my own safety, but for my children, where were my children? My son and daughter lived and studied at university in New York City. Where were my kids!!!??? It was clear that this catastrophe was going to stress the communications infrastructure of NYC, America, and the world to its limits and it was going to happen real fast. I started dialing telephone numbers, tears rolling down my face, praying to God that they would be O.K., asking God to spare them from those infernos in lower Manhattan, praying to God to bless the people who had already perished in the flames aboard the aircraft and at the WTC and the Pentagon, “please God let them be alive, let them be there when I can get through…”

Twenty attempts to reach NYC by phone, thirty attempts without any success, and finally after countless desperate tries to reach my kids (big kids, mind you) by phone, someone picked up on the other end. It was my son, he was somewhat panicked and in shock but he was O.K. My baby, my daughter, was also O.K. They had been spared, they were safe, and we exchanged “I love you’s” and hung up so that others may use those precious telephone lines to America and to New York City. I thank God everyday for His mercy upon my loved ones on that fateful day. Thousands of other people from many, many countries were not so fortunate as I, and I grieve every year on this day for the loved ones that they have lost in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.

I do not like talking to people about this day, September 11th 2001. This is the first time that I have written about my experience on 9/11 publicly. It is nothing special when you read about the stories shared by others, but to hear those words from my son “Hello Dad, we’re O.K. We are safe” were the most beautiful words I have ever heard in my life, ever.

In the past five years there has been too much suffering and death and horror here on Earth, there have been lot’s of 9/11’s for far too many innocent victims and their families right around the world. Too many desperate calls and frantic searches for loved ones ending without those precious words “I’m O.K., we are O.K., thank God.” In the past 5 years, too many of us have come to feel that humankind has lost its way, as if we are all wandering in the wilderness. The time has come that we all deeply reflect on where do we go from here. How do we get out of this manmade mess and together build a better world for all?

I made promises to my God on that fateful day, and said prayers for guidance and forgiveness. I intend to keep my pact with God, ‘til the end of my days. This is how I shall always remember September 11th.

The CS Monitor has a very good article written by Peter Grier and Mark Rice-Oxley commemorating the 5th Anniversary of the September 11th Attacks. Below is an excerpt from the lead paragraphs of the story (
complete article here):

from the September 11, 2006 edition of the Christian Science Monitor

Five years after 9/11: a shifted view of the world
The winners and losers that are still churning the world's politics.
Peter Grier and Mark Rice-Oxley


Old allies have become wary of one another, if not openly suspicious. Sensing inattention, small rogue nations may have decided it is time to make trouble. Two wars have begun, and their ends do not yet appear in sight. Less noticed, a quiet empire continues to rise in the East.

The world today is a very different place from the way it was on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

In one sense that statement is obvious. Five years is a long time in geopolitics. The world turns, whatever terrorists do.

But half a decade on, it also seems clear that Al Qaeda's attacks and the US response have helped move the metaphorical tectonic plates of the globe.

Besides direct effects, such as the toppling of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the reverberations from 9/11 may include a new general organizing principle for international affairs.

The cold war was about the Western and communist blocs, and their values, conflicts, and internal cracks. The current period is about the US and the Islamic world - their mutual suspicions and occasional cooperation, and the wedge Al Qaeda has tried to drive between them.

"Five years in, it is now clear that the 9/11 attacks created a new dynamic for global politics, and thus American foreign policy, centering around the changed relationship between a state and a religion," argues Peter Singer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington.

(Read the complete article at the CS Monitor online)

CNN Special Report: 9/11 Five Years Later, Life After the Attacks

CNN Pipeline is streaming CNN's television coverage of September 11, 2001, in real time as it happened that day, free. Also, host Richard Lui is at Ground Zero in New York for free live coverage of commemoration events. (Note: turn-off your pop-up blocker in order to see the CNN Pipeline 9/11 preview video. Available free only on Sep 11, 2006 until midnight EDST.)

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Unknown said...

Thought i'd drop you a line so you know i stop by and read your posts which i find thoroughly enjoyable. Sept 11 is one of those days when everyone remembers where they where. I was actually at work listening to the radio when the first reports started coming in. My mum, had been on a flight to the US only a couple of days earlier.

May the souls of all those who are lost in senseless conflicts rest in peace.

BRE said...

Thank you for the visit Otolo and I am very happy (and amazed) that you and others find my writing enjoyable.

My good friend Otolo ladies and gentlemen, from Sierra Leone via London. The man to talk to when you are planning a vacation or a business trip to one of the most beautiful countries in all of West Africa, Sierra Leone. Please visit his blog and his website at the URL's below and sign-up for the interesting and informative Visit Sierra Leone monthly newsletter.

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Imnakoya said...

9/11 was a phenomenon that pulled together all humans- regardless of race religion or creed, for a cause. While the actions that led to- and reactions that emanated from it left much to be desired, that day brought out the 'humaness' in all...just as the tone of your blog reflects so well.

BRE said...

Thank you my dear friend Imnakoya. You are right in that the attacks momentarily brought together many members of the human race, but unfortunately shock and awe and fear does not make a very good glue. In the post 9/11 world that we live in today, people are as divided and resentful of one another as ever in history.

We should also remember that millions and millions of people around the world took great pleasure in seeing and or hearing about these attacks against America and her friends and allies, as they continue to do today in attacks occuring all across the globe on almost every continent. When I think about the September 11th attacks I often remember the suffering of innocent people in the attacks against the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. These events in Africa in 1998 were just a prelude of what was yet to come.

Have a look at the PBS Online News Hour special coverage of the 1998 African embassy bombings:

Note the link at the bottom RH-side of the webpage to the Online News Hour report about President Bill Clinton's War on Terror (Aug 25, 1998). A lot of good that did.