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..