9/11 Twenty Years On

A couple of years ago I posted about this on the Facebook page for this blog, and shared it here too. It will be on the Facebook page again, as my posts are automatically linked to there. I make no apology for repeating myself, as I think this needs to be remembered.

No matter where we are from, it is impossible to comprehend the awfulness of that day, a day which has shaped so much of what has happened since then. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of those atrocities and it feels like an appropriate time to reflect, especially since the recent abandonment of Afghanistan to the Taliban has rendered the likelihood of further terrorist acts more likely than it probably has been at any time since 9/11. It is said that those who don’t learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them, and I’m hoping that isn’t true in this case. Time will tell.

Like most people, I guess, I can remember exactly where I was on that fateful day, 11th September 2001, when so many innocent people were murdered and the world changed for ever. For us in the UK, this happened just before 2pm. The guy in the next office rushed in saying ‘you have to see this!’ We spent the next hour or so transfixed with horror at what was unfolding on his computer screen, watching the BBC live news. Work was forgotten for a time, and seemed so inconsequential by comparison.

To honour those who lost their lives, and all those whose heroic efforts helped so many others, I’m dedicating this song to them. An explanation of the song is on Songfacts, and I’m repeating it here as background:

“Grand Central Station is a train terminal in New York City, and a bustling hub of activity. It’s a majestic building where amid the din, travelers can find moments of reflection, as so many journeys started or ended there.

Mary Chapin Carpenter wrote the song after hearing an interview with an iron worker who was one of the first on the scene after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. The interview aired on a New York City radio station on the first anniversary of the attacks, and it brought Chapin Carpenter to tears. “Those first few days there at ground zero, he felt it was a very holy place,” she told NPR. “When his shifts were over, he felt this lifeforce was somehow asking for his help, and when he would leave his shift he figured, whoever wants to go, I’ll take him with me, and he’d find himself just going to Grand Central Station, standing on the platform, and figuring whoever wanted to go home could just catch the train home.”

Chapin Carpenter immediately started writing the song, and had it finished three days later.”

Whatever you are doing today, I hope you can find four minutes to watch this video. The song is beautiful, and some of the images are almost impossibly heartbreaking. Today is a day for reflection, a day to put aside differences, a day to shed a tear for humanity – whilst hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself..

38 thoughts on “9/11 Twenty Years On

  1. Pingback: September Fields | Take It Easy

  2. Perfect post and musical choice, Clive. The images of that day have stayed with me 20 years later. I remember getting ready for work when I first saw the images. My mind immediately went to my students. I was teaching 2nd grade at the time, and I knew many of them would be coming to school with those images fresh on their minds, trying to process something that no young child should have to understand. Everyone was off-kilter all day. Parents came in the middle of the day to hug their kids or just pick them up, wondering if the end of the world was upon us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Pete. I feel this needs to be said. Even though it was thousands of miles from us the horror of what happened was very vivid, and I can understand the parents’ reactions and their wish to comfort their children and show them that they are safe. Our own version of that – 7/7 – claimed 52 lives. Insignificant in comparison? Maybe, but all lives ripped away in such a fashion are their own tragedy. I just hope never to see anything like this again, though I fear we will.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Who cannot remember the total disbelief of that day alongside the horror that yet again man can even think about visiting such destruction on other people, especially the innocent, and there were certainly many of those. Also the repercussions down the last 20 years for those people who lost someone that day.
    MCC has a very appealing huskiness to her voice that makes a song like this sound almost a prayer. I’m afraid I agree with you that we probably haven’t seen the last of these terror tactics but I can only ever hope that we develop some humanity and see a better way to deal with each other,

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was horrific, and its impact continues to be felt to this day, and will do for many years to come. I fear that a newly empowered Taliban will play host to more terrorist acts, and history will repeat itself.

      You’re right about MCC’s voice – if she hadn’t written the song she would have been the right person to sing it. Her pitch is perfect for it.

      I share that hope, but it may be wishful thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Clive, many thanks. Dating back to watching the news about Vietnam, it has long bothered me when civilians are killed by acts of terrorism or war. When terrorists do so, it is even more tragic. I know terrorists beat on their chests with false bravado, but I find these acts to be cowardice. Aren’t you great, you just massacred a bunch of unarmed people is my recurring thought. It matters not what country or entity does it, it is wrong.


    Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s a lovely song indeed. I remember I was driving to my son’s school to pick him up when I heard the news. I was terrified as Sam was at that moment in mid-flight to Cleveland. I didn’t see Sam again for about 10 days. He never got to Cleveland but ended up in St. John’s, Newfoundland, along with passengers on 27 other jumbo jets, and was looked after very well by the Red Cross.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is a fitting tribute, I think. That must have been really scary for you, but it is good to know that Sam was safe and well cared for. Do you know the book ‘The Day The World Came To Town’ by Jim LeFede? It is about the town of Gander, on Newfoundland, and is based on interviews he carried out over a two month period with locals and passengers who had been diverted to their small airport. It is very moving. Also the basis for the musical ‘Come From Away,’ which I haven’t seen but is apparently very good, though taking some liberties with the book.

      Liked by 2 people

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