Four years ago the 11th of September was a Tuesday and was I busy on my computer, as I have been this past week or so, putting together the final details for my tax filing. The TV was on in my study, with the volume turned quite low. Just after 2pm (UK time), programmes were interrupted with a flash news bulletin showing incredible live pictures of one of the two World Trade Center towers ablaze. The commentary veered wildly from one idea to the next, at that stage, as to what precisely had it occurred. Amongst the speculation it was suggested it might simply be a tragic accident, possibly a small 'plane with an inexperienced pilot that had veered off from its assigned route for reasons unknown.
A few moments later I was transfixed, as I expect anyone else who witnessed it on the ground or on live television was, by the sight of a largish-looking aeroplane ploughing into the other tower.
This was no accident!
And then, just about an hour later, first one and then the other tower simply disappeared into themselves in torrents of debris. Although it was perfectly clear to me, watching here in the UK, that when the first of the two towers seemed to have collapsed that this is exactly what had happened, the UK-commentators seemed unable immediately to say it - I suspect their minds simply could not accept what their eyes were seeing and they tried at first to suggest that it was simply the smoke billowing around the remaining building that was obscuring the other tower. I found myself shouting at the television - "It's gone! It's collapsed!" - and weeping uncontrollably, just as I am not ashamed to say I am doing right now. The horror of that day was not over, no, not by a long way; news of other 'planes having veered off course started to come in, then the pictures switched to the Pentagon in Washington DC. Then the news of the fourth 'plane having crashed came in.
We still remember
The three photographs below have been taken from the website of an eye-witness to this tragedy and his website can be seen here. Please take the time to scroll across his page to see the full dreadful series of photographs, together with his simple and poignant commentary.
There is a moving and quite lengthy tribute to the tragedy, in words, music and pictures, here (It is a large file so will take a few moments, even on a fast broadband connection, to load - please be patient). My own small tributes to this and other recent major terrorist outrages (*) can be found by clicking here, or there are permanent links in this blog in the right-hand column under the 'Memorial Pages' heading.
(* - there have been numerous additional terrorist outrages in the past few years, on a smaller scale, but still awful for those directly concerned)