Monday, September 11, 2006

September eleventh - five years on

Everybody seems to remember where they were when it happened.

Me, I had left Canada four days before the attacks occurred. On a stopover in England, I was staying at a friend's townhouse in the former coal mining village of Clipston. My first time to England, we were planning to see the famous Sherwood Forest of Nottingham later that day when Brian, an old travel friend, called me into his living room.
"Dan, hurry up, you gotta see this."
I figured ice hockey or something about Canada was on television. Why else would he be so adamant? On the screen, thick black smoke was rising from one of the towers. The BBC commentator kept saying a plane had flown into it. Before long, were interviews with eyewitnesses in the street. Panicked people, their voices cracking with disbelief at what they'd seen.
Maybe it was an accident, how could someone fly a plane into the World Trade Centre?
As those thoughts were going through my head, the commentator's voice grew loud. "Another plane has just crashed into the second tower." It showed the plane, along with footage of the ensuing fireball.
I watched with a mix of horror and fascination as the first tower collapsed minutes later, and then the second tower fell.
We sat in stunned silence. How many lives had just been snuffed out? Early estimates said up to 50,000.
An attack on America. Hundreds of things went through my mind, as petty as how the stock markets would be hit. Fears of another great depression, where people lost everything. It hit me like a punch in the gut. War? Conscription?
I'd planned to take two years, at least, to travel through the world. I wondered what problems I would encounter on the way. Would wars break out? Would borders close down? Would it soon be impossible to travel across Africa? Which countries had Muslims? Would they still be safe?
George Bush was in power, a man I despised from the moment he was declared president and insulted Canada in his innaugural speech. A man who I knew had no limit to his imcompetence. Arrogant, a cheater of democracy, a man monetarily tied to oil and defense contracts and in charge of the most powerful army in the world.
You're damn right I was scared.

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