9/11: 20 Years On

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  • 9/11 anniversary: Terrorism failed to undermine our freedom, says PM
    Boris Johnson says that while the terror threat remains, people refuse "to live in permanent fear".

    It's been twenty years since the devastating attacks on America and what a horrible way it was to start the new century. The worst bit of that day for me was hearing those sounds as the people jumped out of the buildings and they "landed" on the terrace roofs covering the pavements.

    In a very bizarre twist for my family and I, on 20th September 2000 at just after nine o'clock in the morning, we were on the top floor of the 1st tower in New York and what a thrill it was. The lift was superfast as it took about a minute to get from the ground floor to the 110th floor, but unfortunately that day was cloudy so our view was mostly obscured. It's surreal standing in a building and looking down upon the tops of 70/80 storey buildings with the clouds passing underneath you. It was a great day and we went on to the Statue of Liberty afterwards.

    On 9/11 itself, I was working in Southwark Towers (a mini skyscraper that was on the site where The Shard is now located) and I got a call from my mum in the afternoon to turn on the tv, she never told me why. So, I did just that and turned the tv on, we had one in the department I was working in and was horrified. It quickly became a crowded area. The next thing we all did was look out of the windows....

    Southwark Towers, compared to modern skyscrapers, had tiny floors, so if anything smashed into us, we wouldn't have stood a chance, but we all hoped that if any attack in London did occur, it would be Canary Wharf that got it and not us. Our office in Canary Wharf was evacuated, but we never were. One of the accountants I worked for thought the Americans would use nuclear weapons in response to the attacks. What a terrible thing that would've been if that had happened. We still had to work for the rest of the afternoon, glancing out of the windows every other minute.

    The next day, everybody on the train had a paper and was reading about the attacks and probably wondering if we were going to get hit next, which we didn't, or at least not that year. Normally, the trains were noisy as hell, that day it was stone silence.

    What are your memories of 9/11? Do you recall where you were and what you were doing?

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  • Oh I remember the BBC reporter saying that the building had collapsed and it was still standing on the live image behind and then a few minutes later it collapsed. I was glued to the TV at a friends house with mixed emotions of shock horror and excitement.

  • Probably he was talking about the first tower Norra and what you saw was the second tower collapse.

    I never saw the buildings collapse on live tv myself as I had to get back to work. but I'd certainly seen enough for that day!

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  • No it was the tower being spoken about. It was quite a famous part of the whole scenario striped out for examination but I think it came down to transmission delays or something. It was a bit weird at the time watching it.

  • I was at home that day. I cooked myself some lunch and switched on the TV and the BBC (back when they were a reliable news service) were covering the situation live. Both towers were still standing and the second plane was still to hit. I knew this was going to be a historic moment that would be spoken about and no doubt become taught in history lessons around the world.

    Of course it was impossible at the time to see exactly what the longer term implications of this attack would be and it has taken 20 years to unfold. Ultimately the attacks may have succeeded in their longer term objectives with the Taliban in full control of their native territory and the US severely diminished, divided, weakened, overrun by uncontrolled migration, politically at sea and with an un-credible leader elected by dubious means at the helm. Predictions that the US will no longer be a global superpower by 2030 are looking more plausible every day. Very sad really but external disruptive force’s seemed to know how to destabilise the “Greatest Nation on earth” as they see themselves.

    There simply had to be inside forces at play to achieve this.

    Celebrate it, Anticipate it, Yesterday's faded, Nothing can change it, Life's what you make it

  • Ultimately the attacks may have succeeded in their longer term objectives with the Taliban in full control of their native territory and the US severely diminished

    Nothing to do with the Taliban it was Saudi operatives working under the CIA.

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  • In mid afternoon of 11 September 2001, Just a couple of weeks after I turned 17, I was sitting in the Sixth Form Common room at school, swotting for an upcoming chemistry test as part of my A Level studies. It was pretty quite, Some girls on a free period were chatting in the corner and, unusually, the TV that was sited on a shelf in the corner wasn't on. There were probably around eight or nine of us in there at that moment for various reasons. Just another afternoon in Sixth Form.

    The door suddenly burst open and Sally J, another prefect burst in, red faced and out of breath. It was unusual for her because she was known for her very placid disposition and air of calm about everything she did. I had known her since we started in Upper Third Form when we were 11. Usually, nothing flustered her..... but she was sure as heck in a state at that moment.

    She ran to the TV and put it on. Nobody really understood what we were seeing as the picture came up. OK, so it was New York... we figured out that much.... and is that the World Trade Centre that seems to have smoke coming from it..? Hold on a sec.... there's smoke coming from BOTH buildings. What's going on...?

    Sally blurted out that first one building had been hit by an airplane, and then a few minutes later, the other building had been hit by a completely different airplane.

    It didn't make sense. Like, an accident such as a light aircraft hitting a building can happen, but two such accidents exactly the same, so close together...? No way. Perhaps it was one plane and it glanced off the first tower then crashed into the second...? Yeah, that had to be it.

    NO, Sally said. It was two airplanes and they weren't light aircraft, they were passenger jets. And they had flown directly AT the buildings.

    She had to be kidding. That just wasn't possible. Everybody was babbling at the same time now, but nobody took their eyes off the TV. Miss N, the English teacher came in wanting to know what all the noise was about and we told her. It was at that moment that the first tower started to collapse. Silence fell. We were all struck dumb until somebody said "Oh my God.... there are people still in there."

    There was palpable shock. None of us knew what to do. More people were coming in... teachers... students... word was getting around. For those of us that had seen it all, it was on a magnitude we simply couldn't comprehend.

    Miss N sent a girl to fetch the headmistress. She arrived and Miss N went back to her class. As the only prefects in the room at that time, she asked me and Sally what had happened. We did our best to explain what we'd seen but we were in a state of shock ourselves. Describing the incident to her was the first time I said that the TV was calling it a terrorist attack. We had several girls at our school with American connections in one way or another and Mrs D's first thought was for them. Not sure if they were New Yorkers but.........and at that moment, the second tower collapsed.

    Some girls were crying. The Common Room was now full. It was getting out of hand. Mrs D told me and Sally to go round up the other prefects.... interrupt classes if we had to..... and get the word out that the school was to gather in the Hall for a special assembly. The Secretary arrived and told Mrs D that her phone was ringing off the hook with parents wanting to speak to her. The whole thing was becoming quite surreal, but being given a job to do seemed to snap us both out of it.

    Frankly, that afternoon was bedlam. The Head Girl and the other prefects arrived and between us we started the job of helping teachers to shepherd everybody to the main hall. It was a mad babble... everybody wanted to know what was going on. Somebody told the Head Girl that the news was now saying Islamist terrorists were involved. This was serious. We had a fair few Muslim girls at our school and even at our age, we knew this could impact badly on them. Mrs D was told and her face dropped a mile. She was now really worried about the effect it could have on Muslim students.

    My sister picked me up in her car that afternoon (school was ended for the day after the assembly), on the way home I remembered having once read somewhere that, for the 1960's generation, everybody remembers where they were and what they were doing when the news broke that JFK has been shot.

    For my generation, the events of 11 September 2001 are burned into our consciousness like no other experience in our lifetime. I can still recall it vividly and describe that afternoon in detail. Mostly, we were concerned for the American girls and the Muslim girls at our school. The school went to tremendous lengths to ensure that no tension developed in that direction. Counselling was made available for those who needed or wanted it. One of our students had relatives who lived in New York State, but not in the Big Apple itself. Everybody went out of their way to be kind to both groups. If anything, it united us.

    It took a long time for everybody to get over what happened on that afternoon though. We were all affected by it and those of us who were in the Common Room that afternoon have never forgotten it.

  • That was an excellent account of the day you remember exactly as you experienced it, Jenny. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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  • If I'm honest I cant really remember what I was doing at the time, it was a tragedy what happened but then I have seen many different tragedy happening all over the world and I don't recall much about them either, so rather than say anymore I'll leave it there.

    Young boys in the park jumpers for goalpost that's what footballs all about isn't it.

  • I was at work at the time and the main thing I remember as I watched what had just happened was how awful it must have been for the people in those buildings and the abject fear the passengers on those planes must have felt when they realised what was about to happen. Then I wondered who was behind it and whether this signalled an all out war.

    It was pretty scary, particularly when we learned there were other planes about to crash into other buildings.

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  • I was at work at the time of the Muslim attack on the very fabric of America. The office attached to the Computer suite had a TV and we were all shocked and had great sympathy with the American people. Those trapped in the buildings must have been absolutely terrified.

    I also remember where I was when it came over the TV that JFK had been shot. Can't say I was surprised or in the least upset.

    I suspected that the Intelligence agencies had a hand in that shooting as Lee Harvey Oswald was not that good a shot and Jack Ruby put a bullet in him before he could be interrogated. American politics was going through a dark time back then.

  • Lee Harvey Oswald was not that good a shot

    Your have to be joking. He was a military marksman in the Marines before emigrating to Russia where he married a Russian woman. It's suspected that he actually worked for the CIA and him going to Russia was part of that before moving back to the states. He was a spy but most likely turned into a double agent so was expendable.

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