Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reflections on 9/11


Certain dates will be etched forever in the annals of history. September 11, 2001 is one of them. Today marks the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. What happened that day shook the Western World to its very foundations. It was a colossal event that changed our lives irrevocably. We were fraught with emotion, saddened, overwhelmed and frightened. Almost everyone has a story to tell about what they were doing when they heard the news of the collapse of the twin towers in New York City.  Here is mine.

On that fateful Tuesday morning in September of 2001, I turned on the television to view the morning news before leaving for my job at the library of the Toronto Star, Canada's largest newpaper.  There were endless replays of a plane crashing into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. I switched channels to find out as much information as I could. Some newscasters speculated that it might have been an accident – until the second tower was hit too!  I also learned that there had been an attack on the Pentagon. That really unsettled me! What was going on, I asked myself? Was it the beginning of World War III? The end of the world? Armageddon? By that time, I had to depart for work.

As I stepped outside, I couldn’t help but notice that there wasn’t a cloud in the clear, blue sky. It was a perfect day weather-wise, so calm and temperate. Yet, I realized that something horrifying and earth shattering was occurring in Manhattan and in other locales in the United States. I knew there was going to be pandemonium when I arrived at work. The newsroom and the library would be in quite a state!

When I reached my workplace, everyone was standing around the television, anxiously watching replay after replay of the towers falling down. Reporters were searching for road maps, trying to find a way to get to New York in the midst of all the horror, fear and confusion. It is quite an experience to be around a newsroom during an event of such great historical magnitude.

The passage of nine years has brought some perspective to that day. Many heartbreaking stories have been told. We have heard the testimonies of courage and heroism in the midst of such death and tragedy. Almost 3,000 people lost their lives, including 24 Canadians, in the 9/11 attacks. A twenty-fifth Canadian, Felicia Dunn-Jones, died five months later of a lung condition linked to her exposure to toxic dust during the collapse of the World Trade Center.

Canadians in Gander, Newfoundland played a special role in assisting travellers who were stranded at airports during the time of the terrorist attacks. They took strangers into their homes and provided them with food, shelter and down-home Newfoundland hospitality. Lasting friendships were made during that terrible time.

Here we are, nine years later. The United States is finally pulling out of Iraq. Osama bin Laden remains at large. Travelling through airports is still a major headache due to all the security. Canadians are required to carry passports to travel south of the border and we can’t smile in our passport photos. Resilient New Yorkers have survived and picked themselves up in the manner of Londoners after the Battle of Britain. The area where the World Trade Centre once stood is finally being rebuilt and revitalized.

My hope is that in our zeal to combat terrorism, we do not assume the mentality of the terrorists. I am relieved that Terry Jones, the pastor of an obscure church in Florida has called off his revolting plan to burn copies of the Qur’an. Such tactics as book burning and the  torturing of prisoners by waterboarding are not the way to fight the extremism of militant Islamic fundamentalism.


The Blue Jays lost a heartbreaker last night to the Tampa Bay Rays by a score of 9-8. The Jays rallied in the fourth inning to overcome an 8-1 deficit and tie the game. A throwing error by shortstop Yunel Escobar cost them the game. The good news is that Jose Bautista hit two home runs and he now has 46 homers this season.

I see that former Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay won his 18th game of the season yesterday. Roy and his Philadelphia Phillies lead the National League East and have an excellent chance to be in the playoffs.. Halladay (18-10) became the Phillies' top winner since John Denny posted 19 during his Cy Young season in 1983. Congratulations, Doc, on your success! We miss you.

- Joanne