We’re all talking about it, not surprisingly.
The Day that Changed the World, as it is being described by the media.
There have been others in recent years, of course. The assassination of President Kennedy; the passing of Diana, Princess of Wales; the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, all of which stick in the memory.
But perhaps the tumultuous event a decade ago has brought more fear to a great number of people than previous disasters.
I asked a number of friends and associates, varying ages and backgrounds, about their recollections of 9.11. Where were they when they heard the news and what were their reactions?
Charles told me that he was on a beach in Southern France at the time, holidaying with one of his sons. When he switched on the car radio, he heard that the second tower had been hit. The news was all in French and his son’s girlfriend interpreted for them. “Initially, I didn’t understand the
significance of it; I didn’t appreciate that it was terrorist-linked.”
Also on holiday was Martyn. “Two days of relaxation in Crete were left for us. We picked up the news from someone in the complex where we were staying and went a seafront shop to watch TV.
I marvelled at the sheer audacity of the perpetrators, but at that point I didn’t see it particularly changing the world.”
My son Adrian reminded me that he was at Sutton Junior Tennis Centre in Surrey, in between coaching lessons. “Colleagues and I were watching Sky News, and we all thought it must have been an accident, but when the second aircraft went into the tower, we realised that in no way could that be. It was then that the gravity of the situation struck me. Children on court questioned me,
‘What’s going on in America?’. Not wanting to brush them aside, I could only say, ‘Something bad.’”
Ed, his brother, was living and working in a rehabilitation centre in the Midlands, and he heard the story from American missionaries. “I had only been there for a few weeks, and I admit that I still hadn’t ‘caught up with myself’. It had a greater impact on me later.”
Working in Enfield was Amanda. “A friend received a mobile phone message from her husband saying that there had been a plane crash in New York. We turned on the radio. Shock! At home we watched the television report in disbelief. The images still have an effect ten years later – the dust rising and people running.”
Finally, Peter shares his memories. “I was indoors that day, and it took a while for the news to sink in. How could it have happened? It was beyond anything I had ever seen or heard.”
As likely as not, we all have similar recollections, and they will never be forgotten. Horror, anger, sympathy.
Christians also look back to another day that changed the world.
The first Easter took Jesus to a wooden cross to suffer agonising punishment from Roman soldiers, leading to an untimely death. Or was it? The Bible informs us, through an early sermon by the apostle Peter: ‘Jesus of Nazareth was a man proved to you by God himself through the works of power, the miracles and the signs which God showed through him here amongst you. This man was
handed over to you by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God ... But God raised him to life again – and indeed there was nothing by which death could hold such a man’ (Acts 2, 23-24).
A day in August 1959 changed my own world when it registered in my heart that the sacrifice of Jesus had brought me freedom, forgiveness and new life. Still true!