I’m sure I’m not alone in viewing the media’s intense focus this past week on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks as needlessly sensationalising what should be a solemn and reflective time.
Even so, I too found myself reflecting back to that day. On the morning of 9/11, my daughter – then aged 11 – and her mother were on what proved to be one of the last flights out of JFK, on their way home to Bermuda.
I was driving to the airport to pick them up when I heard the first reports on the BBC World Service that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Centre. Like everyone else at first I thought it was an unfortunate accident but when the second plane hit it was obvious it was a terrorist attack.
As I drove across The Causeway that separates the airport from the main island, reports were coming in that several airborne flights were still unaccounted for and that further attacks were expected. All flights were being ordered to land. It was at this point my stomach churned – was my daughter’s flight one of them? Were there terrorists on board?
The wait for the flight to land was agonizing. We did not know for sure until they began their approach that the plane was safe and had not been turned back.
Fortunately, the passengers did not know about the terrifying events in Manhattan until they landed. The pilot and crew knew but thankfully did not tell the passengers and cause what would have been understandable anxiety and panic.
When the passengers eventually emerged they were visibly shaken and many were in tears. I hugged my daughter as though I would never let her go. We spent the rest of the day glued to CNN and the BBC numbly watching the tragedy unfold, barely able to believe what we were witnessing, yet knowing that the world had changed.
My heart will be full of sadness on Sunday remembering those who died on 9/11 and the families and loved ones who have had to live with the aftermath. I will also remember the thousands of innocent Iraqi and Afghan people who have been killed over the past decade as a direct result of that day.
Yes, a terrible crime was committed on September 11, 2001. But by using it as justification for waging an unjust war, Bush and Blair are guilty of equally abhorrent crimes. As Tom Vesey put it in the Bermuda Sun this week: “They were arrogantly convinced of their own rightness, dismissive of evidence that did not support their views, and deaf to opposing opinions …”