Sep 11 2008

7 Years Ago, Today

Published by at 12:54 pm under Blog

World Trade CentreIt’s a topic that will always come up at this time each year and I wanted to share my 9/11 memory.

I was working in a phone shop in Dublin city centre at the time. It was Tuesday afternoon and, at a time when we would generally be quite busy, the shop was virtually empty. We were prepared for the usual lunchtime onslaught, but it didn’t come.

We, a group of about 8 people, gathered around the big couch in the middle of the showroom and began watching a Batman DVD on the big screen television (not plasma). At last someone got a text message saying a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Centre. We excitedly (yes, excitedly – at this moment it didn’t seem serious at all) paused the DVD and turned over to the news. The reporter was talking about the plane ‘accident’ and replaying the moment the first plane impacted. We were riveted, when suddenly the footage went live and we watched the second plane crash through. I remember everyone around me gasping and one of the girls I worked with screaming.

View from The Statue of Liberty on 9/11I, however, just stared. It didn’t seem real. Even as the building came smashing down, even as I saw people falling to their deaths, it just felt like I was watching a film. Part of me thought, “hey, that’s done well”. It was a bizarre feeling and I think it was only when I went to New York and visited Ground Zero that it actually sunk in – the huge loss of life and the impact it had on everyone across America and the world. Someone on the radio this morning said it annoyed her that the millions who have died in war torn countries across the world are basically ignored, while the 3,000 dead at the World Trade Centre disaster will be remembered forever.

I don’t believe that we have placed any special attachment to those who died on September 9th 2001 – it’s just we saw it happen, we watched it live, we were a part of this event as it unfolded. Everyone has their 9/11 story. What’s yours?

Ground Zero

21 responses so far

21 Responses to “7 Years Ago, Today”

  1. Niamhon 11 Sep 2008 at 1:37 pm

    I seem to remember that news started to filter through to the office I worked in around 2pm after people went back to their desks after lunch & did their usual checking of SkyNews etc. before settling back down to work. Normal worked carried on but with a growing sense of unease in the office that something huge and terrible was happening outside in the ‘real world’.

    I remember a panicked phonecall from my mother asking if I’d heard from two cousins I kept in touch with, her brother’s sons American born and bred, who both worked in Manhattan at the time. Frantic emails were sent as all phone lines to NY, even upstate where their parents lived, seemed to be cut off. Eventually I got a quick email from one of them stating that all was ok, everyone safe as far as they knew, their family unit was still in one piece. His brother had the misfortune to watch out his office window as the second plane slammed into the second tower down the block from where he worked. I still have the emails from that day printed out somewhere, I must re-read them.

    Later though, more was to unfold. Another of my mother’s brothers, the eldest, made a plea bargain with God that day. If only his eldest son, who was to travel to Manhattan for work that day, hadn’t been hurt or worse, he would do anything. Anything for the peace of mind that one of those falling bodies wasn’t his. His wish was granted and he has kept his word, he has never touched alcohol since. This from a man who thoroughly enjoyed a few beers. The whole thing changed him a lot, I can see it even the few times a year that I see him.

    Later still, a son of close friends of the family in New York became a victim of 9/11. He was a carpenter working for the state of NY and drafted into Ground Zero as were thousands of other workers in addition to the emergency services for the clean-up operation. As with many others, he was later diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. After a long, painful and brave battle including a period of remission, he succumbed to the illness and died last year leaving a devastated wife and three young children behind. The State of New York have yet to pay any of his medical bills or a pension to his widow. His sister is fighting the cause. Incidentally it has been in the paper recently, both here & in the US, you can read a bit here

    Sorry for hijacking the post there Darren but that is mine and my family’s (ongoing) experience of the whole thing ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Darraghon 11 Sep 2008 at 1:37 pm

    I don’t really have one, but I do love Tommy Tiernan’s.

  3. B'dumon 11 Sep 2008 at 4:01 pm

    I was at school, was sent across the road to get something, overheard it on the radio, told everyone.

    Tommy Tiernan’s one is VERY similar to Bill Hick’s story about the Gulf War and the news.
    I’ll go with Stewart Lee‘s

  4. TheChrisDon 11 Sep 2008 at 4:35 pm

    I remember being with my mom to pick up my sister from the creche where we both used to be in. The other older kids were telling me that “the Twin Towers collapsed”, and I was thinking to myself: “WTF are they?”

    Only when we got home, turned on the TV and saw it plastered all over every channel did I realise.

  5. B'dumon 11 Sep 2008 at 4:40 pm

    tcd: you were 12! how could you not know?!

  6. Niamhon 11 Sep 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Oh – the guy who I was talking about earlier – his sister is on The Last Word with Matt Cooper shortly if anyone is interested ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. TheChrisDon 11 Sep 2008 at 4:43 pm

    @B’dum: Back then I wasn’t using this thing we call the Internet, so I had no idea what anything outside of the country was…

  8. Darrenon 11 Sep 2008 at 4:58 pm

    @Niamh I’m listening at the moment. Shocking stuff. Would you like to do a guest post or something to give more information about the cause? Just a thought.

  9. Lottieon 11 Sep 2008 at 5:01 pm

    I was preparing a photo post on this topic. Damn you Byrne!

    I think one of the scariest photos of our time is that one taken just after the first tower has been hit and in the distance you can see the second plane.

    I was working in a garage at the time. I remember it coming over the radio and everyone just standing around wondering was it really happening. It was all very surreal. We turned on the TV in the shop and just sat watching the news for the day.

  10. Andrewon 11 Sep 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Damn you indeed Byrne! I also had a post in mind that I was gonna put up late last night but then I got a wee bit drunk and crashed out on my bed instead. It was very similar to yours so there’s no point writing it now.

    I was working in Supervalu in Wicklow, fixing up the bread display if I remember correctly. It looked so splendid even that little Longford OCD fella would have been proud. Simon P, home from England on college holidays, came into the shop and told me, in his long-winded fashion, what had happened. He just said ‘planes’ had crashed into the Twin Towers. Like TheChrisD I wasn’t too sure what the Twin Towers were. I was nearly 20 at the time so i really had no excuse, aside from that America has never really interested me all that much. I pictured the planes as little light aircraft, like a Cessna or something. the day before i’d seen a story on American news late at night about a parachutist getting tangled up in the statue of Liberty when making a landing, and somehow i imagined this was a mishap on a similar scale. I realised differently pretty quickly.

    There was so much confusion and so amy rumours about what was going on. I knew by the end of the day that things wouldn’t ever be quite the same again.

  11. B'dumon 11 Sep 2008 at 7:13 pm

    tcd: good point

  12. Stellaon 11 Sep 2008 at 7:57 pm

    I had tests in the hospital that day. I wasn’t allowed to drive home (the whole 2mins of it) so my dad was babysitting me! We were just in the door, turned on the tv and the 2nd plane hit. It felt more like watching an action film that real life events. I sat the whole day with my dad watching the news and informing friends that were very curious for information but weren’t able to get access from their work.

  13. Joon 11 Sep 2008 at 8:56 pm

    I was working in a language school, waiting for a lift to go see a house in Kildare – I heard about it from all these foreigners saying it was like an action film. It didn’t really make sense. Then we were in traffic for ages, I think so we didn’t get the info as it happened.

    The awful thing is, I’m not sure if those weren’t two seperate days. Must ask N.

  14. Claireon 11 Sep 2008 at 11:40 pm

    I was just about to leave for school when it happened (I think!)
    I remember going into class and asking everyone else had they seen what happened..

    I don’t think the full scale of what happened hit me for a few days…

  15. Maryon 12 Sep 2008 at 9:50 am

    Myself and an ex were watching tele when we flicking stations and switched over to Sky News and saw the coverage of it.
    My parents were in America on holidays at the time and I remember frantically trying to ring them to see if they were ok, I was trying for hours and the longer it went on the more worried I was getting, later that evening I got home and there was a voicemail from my uncle saying that my mam had rang him as she couldn’t get me and that they were ok.
    It’s one of the only times I remember where i was when it happened, the same as I remember about being told Diana died.

  16. sheepworrieron 12 Sep 2008 at 10:08 am

    Was in uni at the time, sittin eating my cornflakes watching some shite with the other ones in the house when the news came on. We watched the burning tower for a few moments when the other plane hit. To be honest I wasn’t shocked or dismayed, and I don’t wanna seem cold or unfeeling here, but all I could think was “something like this was gonna happen sooner or later”.

    It’s a seminal moment etched on our collective consciousnesses and the response to it changed the world we live in, but I agree with whoever that was on the radio that we do seem to attach more importance to the thousands who died in NY than any other modern catastrophe. The london and madrid bombings affected me more initially because I had family and friends living very close to both.

  17. Darrenon 12 Sep 2008 at 12:06 pm

    @Niamh It was a very interesting piece on TodayFM. If you do have updates on thsi story, you might keep me informed. So many people seem to be affected by the same thing and I’d be interested to see where it goes.

    @Darragh Brilliant! “People are so overrated”! ๐Ÿ™‚

    @B’Dum You like your Stewart Lee, don’t you!

    @Chris I had just watched a documentary on Super Structures (including the Twin Towers) a few weeks before the attack. Before that, I had a passing notion of what they were.

    @Lottie Yeah, it’s like everything else just stopped that day. Very odd!

    @Andrew It’s sad to admit, but the terrorists won that day. Since then, the panic, the paranoia and the suspicion has done so much more damage than even the event itself. Remember back when terrorism was something that only happened in Bruce Willis movies?

    @Stella & @Jo I think a lot of people watched it the same way they would a movie. The whole thing was so surreal.

    @Claire As I said, I don’t think it really hit me what it all meant until a long time later.

    @Mary God, that’s horrible – the worry.

    @Sheepie Maybe I was being naive, but I could not have imagined something like that happening in real life.

  18. Peteron 13 Sep 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Spooky that my recollection at the time is pretty much the same thing! I remember thinking it was all so cinematic. ‘How do they do that?’ I think it was just so crazy that I didnt actually relate it to real people or even a real experience until much later

  19. Green Of Eyeon 14 Sep 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Being the diligent student i was on the doss from lectures after lunch and wandering down Shop St in Galway.I bumped into someone i don’t particularly like and was trying to escape from his incessant yapping. I turned around and there was a group of about 50 squashed against the glass of O’Connors TV shop.

    I wondered to myself what they were doing, made my excuses, said goodbye to Mr Talkbox and nipped into the Snug(as it was at the time) pub to use the bathroom. I walked in and was stopped dead in my tracks by the eerie silence that met me. Everyone in the place had their drinks,tea and sandwiches at halfmast and were gawping slackjawed at the tv in the corner.

    I looked up and a few seconds later the 2nd plane smashed into the TT.I remember wondering why the hell were people watching an action film in the middle of the afternoon in the pub. It was only when a guy at the bar said he thought he was going to throw up i realised that this wasn’t an action movie. This was real and that the billowing smoke wasn’t a special effect.

    Panic set in as i legged it to a payphone to try and call some of my mates who were in NYC at the time. They were safe as it turned out but my heart remained in my throat and my eyes glued to the tv for the next few hours.

  20. Darrenon 15 Sep 2008 at 10:48 am

    @Peter I think we share the same experience with a lot of people.

    @GreenofEye Wow – it’s strange how the event gave perspective to everything else that was going on.

  21. Julieon 17 Sep 2008 at 8:47 pm

    i was lying in the sun when that happen thou it was a film on tv. dar did anything else happen around that time????