Ten years ago today terrorists flew two hi-jacked planes into the World Trade Center and another into the Pentagon, with the loss of nearly 3000 lives. The world has arguably never been quite the same since. Since that fateful day we’ve been in the ‘Post-9/11 era’; the feeling that the world is a kind of warzone has seeped into the consciousness of many; the idea that, like it or not, we’re all involved in an invisible war against an unseen enemy.
I was at my desk in the office when the news started breaking; we saw footage of the first plane crashing into the towers on a tiny low-res video on the BBC website. From that moment there was an air of unreality, of the impossible happening. It was like watching a film, a movie – not real life. This could not actually be happening.
When I got home and saw the non-stop news bulletins of the other attacks, the sense of surreal unreality only heightened. No-one really knew what was happening or why; no-one could take it in, let alone make sense of it. It looked like the Apocalypse; the End of the World unfolding on our TV screens. There was hushed talk of a Third World War. And in the background, on every screen in probably half the world, the dark smoke rising; the towers falling.
Readers of this blog will be well aware that I’ve not agreed with every aspect of American foreign policy after 9/11, nor indeed every aspect of UK foreign policy. I feel uncomfortable about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about the whole concept of a ‘War on Terror’, and about the manner and circumstances of Osama bin Laden’s killing. But today isn’t a day for any of that.
Today is a day for the dead and their families and friends; a day for remembrance, for mourning and grief; a day to bow the head in silence before the awful fact of human death, human tragedy and human loss. Anyone who has been bereaved in any way knows the terrible pain, the aching, gaping, raging void of irreplaceable loss. We stand today with those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks, and we mourn with you.
God bless America; God also bless Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Israel, Palestine and every other nation and people in this broken and hurting world. God heal our wounds; redeem our sufferings and sorrows. And may our grief bring us together, instead of driving us still further apart in hate and vengeance and endless warfare.