By Adam Kelly
TORBAY, England – I was far too young to really remember it.
The first memory I have of 9/11 is from Sept. 11, 2002, a year on, of the news reporting the one year anniversary and my parents explaining what happened on that horrible, painful day.
A few more years later, as I became more interested in journalism and began to follow the news on BBC TV and Radio, I learned more about the events of that ordinary day, and how they were turned into an unordinary day.
Despite the fact I cannot claim to have “experienced” the day’s events, I have experienced them. During school, work, afterschool clubs and more, every time someone mentions that day as soon as the conversation is done there is a short pause, almost as if the whole class, group or others are remembering.
I did, of course, experience the London attacks in 2005, though I was nowhere near them at the time. Yet I felt the same terror, shock, haunting emotions and moments that citizens of the United States felt back in 2001, even though I was still young.
But today is about all those lives that were lost on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. Almost 3,000 lives.
But I hate to look at deaths as statistics and I wish I didn’t.
When I look at 9/11, I try to think of all those individuals. All the people they met and touched, all the lives they affected and the individuals they loved and cared for – husbands, wives, sons and daughters.
And when I think of them I think how ten years later all the individuals they touched are still mourning their deaths. And I think how they will never be able to kiss their husband or wife again. They’ll never be able to laugh with them through the good times, and cry with them through the bad.
Those who died on that day could never hold their child’s hand again. They could never play with them again or watch them grow and turn into the individuals that they will be.
In the past few days New York and Washington has been on high alert in case of an attack on the tenth anniversary. I’ve prayed that this doesn’t happen and so far my prayer has been answered.
And then I think of all the other worshippers of any faith, whether they’re Christian or not. I especially think of worshippers of the Islamic faith. And I think because of the 0.1 percent minority, 99.9 percent of them have to suffer abuse almost every day.
Both the United Kingdom and the United States have developed in part an Islamic phobia that is not only just plainly wrong, cruel and racist, but also stupid. Those who abuse Muslims are abusing themselves. They’re abusing fellow citizens. They’re abusing the people that helped them through those dark hours and beyond.
Yet things are changing, or I hope they are at least.
One year ago there was controversy over the building of a Muslim mosque near Ground Zero, yet I could not praise it enough as an example of how the US is moving away from the phobia and how the minority of people who do abuse Islam worshippers can’t stop the rest of the country from standing united with everyone across the world, just as they did ten years ago.
This morning I listened to a broadcast on BBC Radio from Grosvenor Chapel in London to commemorate those British who lost loved ones on 9/11 as well as Americans living in London at the moment.
And I think of how both of our countries stood together on that day, just like most of the rest of the world. Little things like playing the United States national anthem at the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and just laying wreaths showed that our country cared.
Almost every other country showed it cared as well through many different ways.
Though nearly 3,000 people lost their lives on 9/11, the extent of the tragedy went much further than that.
The decision of President George Bush to take America into war with Afghanistan could not be further from the right one. The war in Afghanistan, which continues today, was the worst choice the American government could have made and the UK’s decision to join US and Coalition forces was even worse.
So far, 2,627 coalition soldiers have been killed in total, not far from matching the toll on 9/11.
Every few days or so there is the report of another death, mainly British in the past few days. To add to that the other forces fighting gives us 13,744 deaths, all of whom will never be able to love or care for their loved ones again.
Then there is the most staggering figure of all: 14,000 to 34,000 innocent civilians in Afghanistan dead, all because of the decision to go to war.
In addition to all the dead, countless others suffer from injuries which mean they will never be able to live the same way again.
As I write this now there is breaking news just coming in of a suicide bomber in Afghanistan who has attacked a NATO base and injured 70 soldiers and killed two more civilians. Just another statistic? No, more individuals.
However, today is not a day for reflecting on the war in Afghanistan. It is a day to mourn and remember.
As I finish this piece, an explosion of my thoughts on the subject, I’m filled with a horrible, depressing emotion.
But I know that today we are mourning the lives of those who were lost, and we’re remembering the courage, humanity and love they shared.