9/11 – We Will Remember Them
Today marks the 10th anniversary of a day, which for many, will never be forgotten. Today 10 years ago two aircraft slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre and another into the Pentagon. Only the bravery of passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 prevented another aircraft being used to murder hundreds or thousands on the ground.
I remember the events as if it was yesterday. I was at work (as an insurance broker) when I heard that an aircraft had crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Centre. We quickly turned on a TV with very poor reception and saw the second aircraft hit. I remember the sense of shock and disbelief, and the fear for those I know. One of the most chilling sights was of people who realised that there was no hope of rescue and decided to jump to their deaths rather than face incineration. I cannot begin to imagine what they must have felt as they came to that decision.
My parents were in the air that day in an Air France aircraft and my immediate thought was for them. But I also have friends in the USA and some of them were directly affected. One friend from Oklahoma told me how her father was in New York and spent some time immediately after the attacks, helping the rescue teams with the offer of shoulder and back massages. For stressed firemen and other rescue workers such a free service was much appreciated to relieve tired muscles.
I have only been to New York city once. I was privileged to spend Millenium New Year there, seeing in the 21st Century in Central Park with champagne, and a Union Jack on my back. When, one day, I go back I will have to visit the site of the twin towers and see the memorial garden. I have also been privileged to visit the Pentagon. In 1998 I was on exchange with the US Air National Guard and was given a tour with a US Marine Corps Corporal impressively walking backwards throughout the tour as he described each section whilst watching us to ensure no-one slipped away from the group. I understand that there is now a memorial at the Pentagon as well.
In all on that dreadful day there were 2,977 victims; 2,606 people in the towers and on the ground; 246 on the four aircraft; 125 at the Pentagon. 55 victims were military but all the rest were civilians. 411 emergency workers died as they tried to rescue people or put out the fires; of these 341 were firefighters; 60 were police officers from the NYPD and Port Authority; 10 were medical personnel or paramedics. 175 former colleagues from Aon Corporation died. In all people from 70 nations were killed in the attacks including a number of Britons.
On this 10th anniversary day my thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who died, and with the survivors for whom the orgy of documentaries and news items will bring back painful memories. Sadly there are still twisted people out there plotting a new wave of terrorist attacks. We owe thanks to the security services who have prevented many subsequent attacks around the world and we owe it to the victims of 11 September 2001 to do everything possible to ensure that such evil is never repeated.
We WILL remember them!