Where were you on Sept 11 2001?
I was in my rented room, probably reading or playing the guitar. My phone rang and it was my aunt, telling me to "...GO WATCH CNN! The World Trade Centre is under attack!" I thought she meant the Putra World Trade Centre here in KL.
I ran downstairs to the living room where my landlord was watching cricket. We changed the channel to CNN and we were in time to watch the 2nd plane hit. I'll never forget watching that plane sail into the tower and the fireball after that.
I ran upstairs to get my modem and PC working. This was back in the days of dial-up. I had friends in NYC and I wanted to know if they were safe. We had no FB, no Twitter in those days. But we did have an online chat room and I managed to login and check on them. They were safe but afraid.
Then news came through of another plane, this time it had crashed into the Pentagon. A friend of mine was working in the Pentagon. I tried for days to get hold of him with no success, my emails went unanswered and I couldn't call through to the States. I even called up the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur asking for information but they weren't able to tell me anything. Finally I found his name on a list of survivors posted online. I'll never forget the relief I felt. When he was finally able to write, he told me he'd left the Pentagon an hour before and was a few miles away when he heard the news on his car radio. He turned right round and drove back. When he got to the Pentagon, he saw the plane had crashed right into his section of the building.
So I got lucky. Everyone I cared for was unhurt. But a lot of families weren't quite so lucky.
On Sunday we remembered those we lost in the attacks. But I can't help thinking that we shouldn't just be remembering those who died in the attacks - the people in the towers, the policemen, the firefighters. We should also remember all the innocent who had to suffer in the aftermath of the attacks and who got no media coverage, no monument to their suffering. Someone wrote in a UK newspaper of his experience of that day. He said he felt intense fear for the one day of the attack and he couldn't imagine what it must have been like for the Iraqis who had to feel the same fear over and over again in the war after that. He wrote that if we are to fully heal, we must remember all who were affected. I think he's right.
RIP to all those we lost.