Remembering this date

Just like everyone else in the world, it seems fitting to put at least something brief down about the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

A lot of conflicting emotions, I must say. It was a terrible event, that goes without saying, but I think straight away the reaction to the event (and the choices around that) is what changed the world moreso than the event itself. We didn’t have to spend 10 years chasing our tail, or invade multiple countries (one minimum being a total waste of time and lives) or spend billions punching at shadows. We’re lucky we just got the main guy responsible, nearly 10 years later.

But as always for me it’s the media, with its orgy of remembrance, and its horror-porn endless replays of the attacks that really get me. I don’t want to watch most of it — I overdosed on it years ago. This takes away nothing from the horror, from the true remembrance that should and must be done by those that have a substantial connection to the attacks or who lost loved ones, but for too many it’s just another form of TV entertainment.

And though I know its wrong, everytime I see these stories about the children of 9/11 or similar, I do wonder if we’ll ever see the stories of the orphans of the Iraq war — the thousands of kids without parents because of that little adventure. This takes away from none of the true suffering of the families of 9/11 victims, but it puts the media attention into perspective. We judge the losses of “our side” to be more important, because that’s how it’s always been done. And nothing really changes.

Part of the things that always come up on these events is “where were you 10 years ago when it happened?” And like most, I can tell a story. Late on the evening of Tuesday, September 11 2001, I was living in Newtown, between jobs and watching “The West Wing” on Channel 9 with my wife. I’m pretty certain it was the episode where President Bartlett’s secretary died and Jed cursed God in Latin on the floor of the National Cathedral. Heavy stuff to be sure, but then there’s a news flash about a plane hitting the World Trade Centre. Sounds serious, but not dire. Back to the fictional, idealised, America. Ten minutes later the show ends, but then it’s straight to the news, the 2nd plane has hit and you can’t take your eyes off the screen until four in the morning. I saw both buildings collapse live, and due to my between jobness, I spent the next 3 days basically watching the live feeds from CNN. Such as it went.

Many Australians were watching The West Wing that night… enjoying our fantasy America until the real world intruded. Strange and surreal, especially since I can still remember exactly how it went down 10 years later.

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