Sunday, September 11, 2011

911 - Ten years on

On September the 10th 2001 I sat at Arlington Cemetery in Washington DC and admired the view of the Pentagon. It was the last day of a long weekend in the capital of a country I always enjoyed visiting. As I landed at Manchester Airport on the morning of September the 11th I was still buzzing with the highlights of the trip - the Capitol Building, the Lincoln Memorial and all the occasional delights of a trip to any American city - people, food, conversations and the ambience of a place at ease with itself.

The violence of it, the outrageous wanton killing is just dreadful. You keep hearing the same horror from those in New York, the sights of people jumping from the Twin Towers will never leave you.

Personally, I think too that the terrorists who hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 did so from Dulles Airport, where I was just a few hours before. And that I was at the Capitol the day before, which was the intended target of Flight 93.

Did the world change forever? Probably. Did we change as individuals? I don't think so. I know it affected me, hardened some of my views, but also shook up my own view of liberal values, faith, justice and what America stands for in the world. I still get upset that people seem to have forgotten it so quickly. I still believe those responsible were from the joyless and distorted fringe of Islam, a religion that truly believes in peace. Their death cult has a hatred of our way of life that is not fuelled by the things that make liberals angry, but gives them the very freedom to consume, create and behave as they do.

Practically speaking, I was still reeling from the shock of the attacks, when I heard that a special adviser to the government suggested it was "a good day to bury bad news". If that was the level of cynicism of party politics, then I wanted no part of it. The Labour Party membership was torn up, and much as I've shifted views on a number of issues, I won't be joining any other party either. It's not for me.

I blogged on how the fall out from 911 shifted my outlook here and here.

Everyone should take time today to reflect - pray if that's what you want to call it - that our reactions and intentions should be peaceful, loving and forgiving.

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