I’ve had this post sitting in my draft folder for a couple of years. Each year I look at it, tweak it, then don’t post it. Probably because out of all the tributes and sorrow that are focussed on, my pales in comparison. Having recently been to New York City with my family and seeing the site of the old twin towers in addition to the new twin towers, I thought I would take a stab at cleaning up this post and publishing it.
I remember where I was on 9/11 and can recall that day as if it were yesterday. Sometimes you just know that you are experiencing an event that will change the world forever, and September 11th, 2001 was one of those days. Much like when John Lennon was shot, or the space shuttle Challenger disaster (watched that live on TV) but to a MUCH greater extent. From this day, nothing would remain the same.
I had arrived at work around 7:30am at the Canadian government’s taxation department and was going about my business when a colleague called me and asked me if I had heard about an airplane colliding with the World Trade Center in New York. Intrigued, yet mortified (we have family out there), I asked her for the information they were relaying on CNN.
As she was trying to determine if it was an accident or on purpose, I managed to get a radio from a colleagues desk and turn on 680NEWS, our all-news radio station in Toronto. I called my wife and left her a message at her work and called my mother at home (who else do you call, lol). While we were all listening, and the second plane hit and by now, there was a large crown around the TV that I had arranged for from the training unit. We were watching the events live and the room was so silent you could hear a pin drop.
It was unreal…
Watching the replay of both planes hitting – from all angles – and from people’s video cameras was riveting, and the footage of people jumping off the tower rather than getting burned alive was disturbing. The floor was silent. There were about 65 of us, mouthes wide open looking in horror at what was happening on TV, while reports of other planes flying around looking for targets was still suggested by CNN.
Planes from New York were being diverted to Toronto too…
The Pentagon was hit, a plane went down in a field in Pennsylvania…
I asked our director to please let us all go home – it was unsafe – there was speculation – massive loss of lives and planes with potential terrorists were coming to Toronto.
She would have no such part of it.
I begged her to let us go.
She laughed me off.
10 minutes later she evacuated the building and asked us to decide if we wanted to stay and wait out the happenings in NY, or if we wanted to just go home.
It turns out her sudden change of heart was the result of some half-wit called in a terrorist threat to our building (we were in a 21 story building), saying that a plane was going to be flown into all tax buildings, so the police were on their way to secure the ground and watch for airplanes. I remember as I was leaving the building that the police were dusting a phone booth across the street for finger prints. I asked an officer and he said it appears that someone called in a threat to our Barrie office (a small 2-storey office about 1 1/2 hours north of Toronto) and upon hearing that, someone – possibly a current employee - was caught on camera calling in the threat to our office and the other 4 GTA offices. Nice.
So I went home and watched CNN over and over again. I could not comprehend what was happening a mere 8 hours from Toronto. The more I saw, the harder it was to understand why. Sure the perpetrators find the west to be terrorists and I’m sure they felt justified, but seeing the kids in the street in some Arab countries and in the Gaza Strip celebrating the loss of innocent lives made me angry. When I heard that the US was dropping bombs in Afghanistan, I was over joyed, figuring US intelligence knew something and was getting revenge.
So fast forward 10 years…
Osama Bin Laden is dead and his body dumped in the ocean.
Nothing has changed in Afghanistan.
Terrorist threats are still a real possibility on a daily basis.
Iran wants nuclear weapons.
Radical Islamists in England burned the US flag.
Man are we in for another rocky 10 years. The US has to realize it has few real friends out there aside from Canada.