I have complicated feelings about the World Trade Center attacks. Perhaps that's why I did not chose to write about them on the day, and I chose a photograph that is a recollection of a memorial rather than of the event itself.
I remember the day itself well. News first from the radio (NPR) of the first strike and the tower burning, then the full unfolding of the calamitous morning. I remember the absolute silence in the sky for that day and the following. What I did not feel, and this was obvious from observing everyone around me, was that sense of stunning shock.
I had expected something like this would happen for a long time. Perhaps nothing as vast or horrendous, but still something. I remembered the attempted bombing of the towers a few years beforehand. I remember the Oklahoma City bombing. Most of all, though, I remembered my teenage years and the horror that shook my own hometown when bombs planted by the IRA destroyed two pubs in Guildford. I had been pub crawling in town that night; it was only good fortune that did not lead me into one of those establishments.
Five people died that night. Compounding the tragedy was the arrest and conviction of four innocent people for these bombings, a wrong that was righted only after they spent 15 years of their lives in prison. My brush with terror failed to draw black and white conclusions. Murder and injustice walked together.
When I saw much of the same rush to judgement and whiplash response to 9/11, albeit on a much larger scale, work its way through into the Iraq war, I felt a sense of helplessness. Politics and agendas diverging from the essence of the crime had hijacked the process once again.
Today, I see four diplomats have been murdered in Libya. Will the right people pay for this crime?
I am not optimistic.
Photo of memorial flags planted on Art Hill in Forest Park in 2011