• James Hewlett

Where Were You?

I'm sure everyone remembers where they were on 9/11, it is just one of those moments that sticks with you. No one knew what was happening but there was just a feeling immediately that the world was changing.

It was morning rush hour for the people most directly effected but I was just finishing school. It would have been the start of my third year of secondary school and I had moved on from the kids I'd gone to primary school with and had a pretty well established group of friends. We were an eclectic bunch of weirdos and at the time Jackass, skateboarding, rock music and intentional stupidity were our driving forces. I rode the bus home most days, I lived pretty far out but so did a few of our group of friends so there was always people about. A few others often got on our bus part of the way too and got off in town.

That day though as I was walking out of school with my friends I noticed my mum and sister were there. It wasn't the biggest surprise, my sister had just landed and got back from working in Cancun for a while so them coming to pick me up wasn't a shock. It meant I'd get home quicker so I was always happy with getting a ride.

As soon as I got in the car they said that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers and that it might have fallen. We didn't know anything at the time. I assumed it was just a small aircraft but I saw some friends walking to their bus and yelled at them to check the news as something was going on.

We had the radio on on the way home and as when we got back Paul was glued to the TV, I've never seen him rattled before but this had him. I makes sense, he was still a captain for BA at the time and had been flying for decades.

While we were driving Tower Two had been hit and One was either falling or fell, I can't remember. I just remember seeing replays of the second collision and various angles of the them both coming down. I can still see the same loop of footage we were being shown if I think about it.

I'm not sure what news station we were watching but they had patched into CNN as the US feed was obviously getting the most up to date information. I know at one point, when they started mentioning the word terrorist some bright spark at the network was probably scrambling to get some sort of 'expert' on the line to give some input and the best they could do was Tom Clancy.

He was very eloquent and pretty blunt in saying, "I'm a fiction author and this is real life, I'm not the best person to talk to right now."

It was such a surreal thing. We had it on for hours before we got any further information it was just a lot of conjecture. The reports of The Pentagon and United 93 came through as well, at the time they didn't want to confirm they were related. It seems silly to think now that they could have coincidently happened at the same time.

We knew Jon was okay. I don't know how, I don't think we had received word yet, but we weren't worried about it. In retrospect I don't know why we weren't worried.

My brother was in New York at the time. He has a picture with the date stamped 9/10/01 and it is of him and a friend looking down at the camera with the Twin Towers looming over their heads.

He was a DJ on cruise ships at the time and they were in port when the planes hit. He heard the first one from his cabin and was out on deck watching as the second one came in.

The ship didn't waste too much time getting the fuck out of dodge, they left port and went down to Baltimore as soon as they could. It was the first night that all the crew had off... ever, so a lot of them went out drinking. That was probably a mistake. By the time the night of 9/11 rolled around Al Queda had claimed responsibility and Muslims across the world but especially in the US and ESPECIALLY on the east coast were being held responsible. Hell, it was anyone vaguely brown. They didn't care at that point. So all the crew who were out having a beer in Baltimore that night, mostly Indian and Filipinos with next to no Muslims amongst them, got rounded up and put in the local lock up until a representative from the ship verified who each of them were. Jon recalls watching the local news and being shocked to see his friends being arrested, some of whom he'd been on deck with watching the horrifying events take place with hours earlier.

Fear took hold of the world and I don't think it has ever let go.

I think you can count on one hand the number of single days that had as much effect on our planet. It is still, and I think will remain so for everyone who was alive and cognisant of it at the time, a timestamp that you measure things by. Pre-9/11 and Post-9/11.

People say, "Never Forget." I don't think that anyone needs reminding, everyones lives changed to various degrees that day.

We're seventeen years on now, dark humoured jokes are made occasionally, Kumail Nanjiani has a great one in his movie The Big Sick, but no one is ever going to really make light of it.

I'm not going to put up any other picture today.. I think it would feel a little crass.

#history #tragedy #death


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