I meant to write this post two days ago but just did not find the time. As the whole world knows, Saturday marked the 9th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America. On that day, I was on a flight leaving New York, where I had just spent a few days with my choir. Our plane left the city a few hours before the first tower was hit so we did not know about anything that was happening until we were in Windsor (UK), where we were spending the day before catching the final flight to the island. I remember I was in a shoe shop with my friend who was buying some pretty amazing boots when a shop assistant came to the counter and told her colleague something about planes crashing into the Twin Towers. I thought she was talking about some film or book and did not give it much thought. After paying for the boots, we left the shop and stopped at a crossing, waiting for the lights to change. Right then, a taxi stopped next to us and we heard the news on the radio which the driver had on at a very loud volume. And that’s when the penny dropped. To say that we were in shock for the rest of the day is an understatement. We cried, we worried about our friends who were still in New York, we were scared, exhausted, jet lagged and we wanted to go home. Nothing made sense anymore. We quickly found a telephone and phoned our families on the island. My family were beside themselves with worry. I remember my mother crying on the phone.
Later in the day, we went to the airport to catch the flight back home. No airline was flying out and there was talk of all flights being cancelled and airports being closed. And then the security checks started. I was the first one from our group to be called out on the PA system. People, we were peeing ourselves. We had just come from the Big Apple and so were automatically considered ‘suspicious’. It sounds ridiculous now, but nobody knew what was going to happen next. When you see scenes on the news that look like they were taken out of an action film, anything becomes possible. We eventually made it safely back to the island (at which point I was stopped by customs and forced to open all my luggage…I had never been stopped by customs). I ended up crying and begging the official to show some compassion, which he did after grilling me about the contents of my suitcases. After that we still had to travel to the smaller island. It’s safe to say that the only other time my exhaustion matched that day’s was when I gave birth to my daughter.
Apart from the confusion and fear of that day, I remember most clearly watching the news and seeing people jump to their death out of the towers. It’s an image I’ll never be able to shake off. Nine years have passed and 2996 persons lost their life on that day. My heart goes to the thousands of relatives and friends left behind to mourn their dead.
What about you? Where were you that day?