Monday, 12 September 2011

The Tenth Anniversary of September 12

Today's post is released on the tenth anniversary of many of us going to work or turning up at school, the morning after the night before. The terrorist attacks in the USA of Tuesday morning September 11, 2001 were beamed into Australia in the evening. Here in Melbourne we are fourteen hours ahead of New York.

On that frightening night, because of where we live in the world, Lisa and I had some hours to work out how we would give our daughter (then eight) and son (five) the terrible news. What were we going to say the next morning? Many who read this blog may well have had the same challenge. Some of the young people who read this, only know the world as 'post-September 11'.

What did you say to your kids?

How was it explained to you?

We knew our daughter had a classmate, a Moslem girl. We wanted to prepare her in case there was unkindness directed at her friend. News was already emerging about a group called Al Qaeda.

So on the morning of September 12, our kids woke up to a world that had changed. We elected to be very general with the young fella - he had not started school at that time. For our eight year old girl, we offered what we knew at that point.

1. A very bad thing had happened to some people in America and many people had died.
2. The people who did it might be the same religion as her friend but that didn't mean that her friend's religion or her family were bad. Some people from all walks of life do bad things but most people try to be good.

I remember going to work and feeling as if, in a fog. The World Trade Centre renown as a 'global' workplace, hit home. We became aware that a colleague's brother-in-law was among the missing. He was never found.

What was to happen next? The uncertainty was so frightening. In fact, I had never felt so frightenend and I was 34. That fear permeated for a few more weeks, I did snap out of it, on the first day of Term 4. (I'll let you know how that happened in another post.)

If I was that frightened, it prompts a wondering about what the world has been like to live in, for our kids, these last ten years.

One year later in September 2002 the transcripts and recordings of the last phone messages of those trapped in the buildings were coming to light. At the time a dear friend was getting married. The celebrant noted that the messages had a commonality - all were expressions of love, nothing trivial and certainly nothing about tax returns or what furniture to buy next. Many people in the buildings left messages aware that they might be speaking their last words to the people they were calling.

In our private moments of sadness, what is truly important, becomes obvious. If anything good can come from this tragedy, it is that we all had the opportunity to stop, to consider what is truly important.

On this anniversary of 'the first day after' let your important people know what they mean to you. And if they are nearby give them a hug.

Bill Jennings