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Remembering 9-11 


A year ago, at this time, I was trying to get to sleep because I knew I would have to get up early to get to to join others commemorating . I got up around 6.30 a.m. and took the subway in to , and met a woman who had travelled there from California. In fact, most of us had come a long way. I spotted two Australian caps among the crowd.
   When 9-11 happened, it was 9-12. Here in , I was woken up around 6.30 a.m. by Edward Hodges, who called me after he learned of the attacks. I had returned from only weeks before, so this was a surreal moment. But it never hit me: I tried watching the news, the commemorations, and I felt distant. Maybe it was my mind shielding me. That’s why, in 2005, I had to go.
   Although I had one friend who was killed in London last year, on , I lost no friends on . The people who died were friends of friends. The boyfriend of one of my team could not get back into his apartment. A colleague’s office had to be shut till the area was cleared. That was about it.
   I still have pictures, when researching a story, of 9-11 itself, taken from Soho by friends. They showed the ’s ablaze. I even had images of those falling to their deaths. I doubt I will ever publish them. But even then, it was still some event, some , in a foreign country. I must have had ice water in my veins.
   But last year, it finally hit. I saw the firemen at Engine Company 10 mourn the loss of their colleagues, and comrades from Europe came to join them. I saw the notes people had signed on memorial boards. I saw tears. An old man wore a T-shirt commemorating his son, a firefighter who perished in the World Trade Center. Cops were there: hard, big blokes who could have stared down crims had tears to contend with in their eyes that day.
   It touched me because these were people like me. Of every race. Every creed. Every culture.
   Condi started talking below, but it didn’t matter. I was already in the moment.

Where are we now? I remember doing business in New York was easy. People you. Shook your hand. People were globally minded, thinking, ‘What borders?’ I can’t do business in New York anywhere near that readily any more. Suspicion first. Get a cast iron contract. Weigh people down before you make them your friends.
   The in New York, which is all I really knew, changed drastically that day. That is what the robbed the US of: not its wealth, not its power, but its trust of cross-border dealings.
   A friend of mine, who was a waiter in New York, told me that people were nice to him—a gay, black man—for about two weeks. After that, the mood soured. He was back to being just a waiter. But something was worse.
   My friends told of people reading Arabic-language newspapers, published in the United States by Americans, getting kicked out of restaurants and cafés.
   There was something seriously wrong. And if we are to show the terrorists that they are insignificant, cowardly bastards, then I long for a return to the I knew and started working with, and in, in the 1990s.

I still stand by my words written on September 11, 2001. If I had a blog then, these would be on it.

Del.icio.us tags: 9-11 prejudice USA New York NY NYC September 11 World Trade Center WTC photography commemorations
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Seeing the reaction of the firemen was especially hard. My old landlord was a firefighter and I went to visit him not long after the attacks. Seeing such an honest, genuine guy crying in the middle of the sidewalk over his lost comrades was heartbreaking. I'm sure he still hasn't quite recovered.  
In my book, firefighters are the noblest profession. These guys risk their lives for no reward other than a pay cheque. I don’t hear of (at least here) corruption—I just hear of them putting other people’s lives before their own. So when so many of these guys die—guys who would have been heroes living or dead, in my opinion—I feel massively hurt.  
Excellent post Jack!  
Great writing today and back then Jack. It echoes some of my sentiments in an email I sent to friends the day after the events. I put it in my blog here...


I wish things could return to the way they were before 9/11, but they have changed forever, especially for those who lost loved ones, but also for peace-loving individuals who happen to share characteristics with certain radical terrorists.  
Thank you, BlackOps, and Atul, thank you for sharing. What you wrote back in 2001 made a lot of sense, and still does. We need that reminder from time to time, and the anniversaries of 9-11 are as good a time as any.  
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Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.

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