As I've traveled extensively to 100 UN countries, and blah, blah, all my usual travel stats, I read my 2001 September 11 tribute with some mixed feelings. I was just entering university in 2001, with little international experience outside North America and Asia. The more I travel, the more I realize the world is so much more complex than can be described in 500 words. For now, I'd much rather use my creativity for artistic expression, rather than pontificating about things beyond my control and understanding.
The full text of my tribute from 2001 is here:
A United Airlines Boeing 767 (Flight 175) destined to Los Angeles from Boston is hijacked in mid-flight and steered into the north World Trade Center tower.
Another Boeing 767 (American Airlines Flight 11) heading to Los Angeles from Boston is hijacked and crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center.
Under the FAA’s command, all flight operations at American airports are terminated.
The Pentagon is the target for a hijacked American Airlines Boeing 757 (Flight 77) en route from Virginia to Los Angeles.
The south World Trade Center tower collapses.
During a flight from Newark to San Francisco, a United Airlines Boeing 757 (Flight 93) is hijacked and crashes near Shanksville.
All trans Atlantic flights with US destinations are diverted to Canadian airports.
World Trade Center's north tower crumbles to the ground.
One and a half hours. Typically, this amount of time is rather insignificant, since it only accounts for 6.25% of a 24-hour day. However, the one and a half hours between 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on September 11, 2001 have been an exception; they will be everlastingly engraved into our collective memory.
On the ill-fated September morning, 3 commercial airplanes became lethal weapons. Two of them were destined for the World Trade Center; the other, the Pentagon. With missile like precision, the airplanes were expertly maneuvered into the 2 structures, the symbols of American dominance. Some time after the initial impact, the World Trade Center, the world’s economic nucleus, collapsed. The 110 stories of concrete that once ascended pretentiously against the renowned Manhattan skyline have now been reduced to a mountain of debris on the ground. The Pentagon, the embodiment of America’s military and defense, presently has a gaping wound in its heart.
The appalling images of New York City’s “ground zero” and the Pentagon have flashed incessantly across television screens world-wide. English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian etc. newscasts have been entirely devoted to “America’s New War.” Reporters and journalists have been scrambling to destinations in the United States, providing live coverage for their respective news-channels as death blankets the backdrop behind them. Other forms of media, such as radio and the inter-net, have also had continuous, almost uninterrupted reporting of the events as they have unfolded.
We, as citizens of a media-based, global community, have beheld the scenes and heard the latest news, as the seconds have turned to minutes, the minutes to hours, and the hours to days. Some of us mourn with our American friends, shedding heartfelt tears for the dead, the injured, and their families. Some of us have turned away in disgust, disillusioned and disappointed in the nightmare that is our society. Some of us are seething with fury, vowing that the innocent deaths will be avenged. However, all of us have been traumatized with the mutual feelings of sheer shock, dismay and uncertainty.
Unfortunately, these emotions will continue to fester within our hearts and souls, and submerge into every crevasse of our minds, for months to come. We will eat, sleep and breathe with thoughts and questions running amuck in our already somnolent psyches. How did this happen? Why did this happen? How can we prevent this from happening again? How did a continent that holds freedom and liberty in such high regard, become constrained in a world of terror? Even if these detrimental queries plague the remainder of our lives, the answers will not be easily unearthed.
Nevertheless, amidst our pessimism, there should be a revitalized sense of hope that the virtue of the human spirit will triumph at the end of this crusade. Even in this malevolent world, good is materializing in countless respects. Police officers, firefighters, rescue workers and volunteers are toiling in the rubble, sweating and bleeding for friends, family and strangers; the Americans have been united in a rescue movement. People of differing ethnicities and nationalities, who reside several time zones away from the United States are participating in candlelight vigils for the victims and their families; the world is in solidarity with its American comrades. As the determination of our individual spirits merge together in harmony, we can be reassured that as long as this global family amalgamates in during this time of need, the dark demons of the world will eventually be dissolved by the purity of light.
In conclusion, each and every one of us should contribute and involve ourselves in the international outpouring of sympathy and compassion. We can do so by observing a moment of silence, signing a book of condolences, writing letters to the victims’ families, leaving flowers at the US consulates and embassies, volunteering in the rescue relief efforts or donating blood to the Red Cross. Or, we can even do some good in our own lives, by hugging our parents, sharing with our brothers and sisters, assisting complete strangers and being respectful to everyone. Of course, some may find my opinions to be naïve and unrealistic; to those I offer this uncomplicated response. If we do not at least attempt to believe in the fundamental goodness within ourselves at this point in time, then the terrorists have truly succeeded, for they not only will have managed to completely terrorize us, but they will also have robbed us of what innocence we have left.
I offer my sincere condolences to all the victims and families involved in the appalling events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.