Monday, 12 September 2011

Tenth anniversary

I've been in a self-imposed media black out over this tenth anniversary of the twin tower and pentagon terrorist attacks on the US.

Like many people in Australia when the attacks happened, I was watching "The West Wing" on television.  Suddenly there was a cut to breaking news and there were the pictures of the first plane flying into the twin towers. It took me a minute to understand that this was not part of the story line on the show and find where fiction ended and reality started.  It took some time for the enormity and significance of what I was seeing and hearing to sink in.

The following day, I remember dealing with a member of my staff who was very disturbed by what had happened.  I sent him home with the phone number for the employee assistance program.

I understood this.  It was far away, hard to comprehend, but somehow threatening to us over here in Australia.  When I heard the stories and saw the footage of people leaping from the buildings I found that very difficult.  Late last week a man phoned ABC local radio to recount his experience.  He had been in Manhattan on the day of the attack and described the sights and sounds of people falling to their deaths.  It was too much, even to hear this third hand account.  What must these people have been thinking and feeling at the time?

I know myself well enough to know that I can not cope with the relentless onslaught of the anniversary each year, let alone the tenth anniversary.  So I switched off.  I did catch a glimpse of Yo Yo Ma playing a cello solo.  I caught my breath.  My eyes filled.  Yet again, a master artist conveyed with the voice of his instrument the mourning and grief of so many people.

As one of my friends said to me the other day (somewhat accusingly), "You just want everyone to love each other and everything will be okay in the world."  Well, yes.

I hope that peace can be found.

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