I walked out of a classroom where I had been studying database engineering, conscious that the background noise had changed. On entering the headquarters, I kept hearing words ‘America’ and ‘New York’. Back in the office silent faces were turned to the wall mounted TVs which screened a permanent live news feed. I turned to look at the screen just in time to see the second attack take place.
Within minutes everyone was busy implementing plans that had been outlined to cover such events. All over the country military and government establishments were being cloaked in a huge security blanket which within hours would cover the whole nation. All the while eyes kept flicking to the TV screens which continued to play pictures of the tragedy in New York.
As that day unfolded images were forever scored onto billions of people’s retinas, images that will live with generations of people around the world. The towers slipping into the dust cloud, people jumping, and the tear stained dust covered faces of men and women who were on the streets of New York that day.
The military and civil servants in our headquarters were hardened people, most of them had been involved in preparing, supporting and conducting a wide variety of military operations around the world but this was different. We had all seen the effects of war and terrorism on civilian populations and many of us had witnessed genocide, but attacks on this scale and of this nature were almost unthinkable and there was an air of shock and disbelief.
Whilst the concept behind the attack was not new, (Tom Clancy wrote two books in the mid 90’s in which a passenger aircraft was flown into Congress.) it cannot be denied that the attacks on 9/11 were masterful in their simplicity and almost flawless in their execution. As military personnel we knew that the people who had planned the attacks would be sitting somewhere watching events unfold with a real sense of satisfaction, perhaps even pride. I doubt that even they could have anticipated such a spectacular success. The attack was so monumental and so well publicised that mention the date; 9/11 anywhere in the world and people will instantly know to what you are referring.
Ten years have passed and America and its allies have been in a constant war against an enemy which lives in the shadows; rising occasionally to strike before falling back into the darkness. It is true that America has had its successes most recently with the summary execution of Osama Bin Laden but when all is said and done; two wars have been initiated, hundreds of thousands of people have been maimed or killed; at a cost that would bankrupt many small nations (some would argue it has helped bankrupt the USA). Yet despite this the average American could not put a pin on a map of the world to mark countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Iran.
What is perhaps more worrying is that after all this time most Americans would not even begin to understand why their country was attacked in the first place. You may ask; ‘why do I say this is worrying?’ Well, I believe that the Chinese General and strategist Sun Tzu sums it up about 2400 years ago when he wrote;
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Though the smoke and dust are gone,
the souls of three thousand live on.
Two thousand parents taken away;
and three thousand children had to stay.
as four planes of terror crashed
the hopes of years to come were dashed.
Ten years on; a nation greaves
in city streets strewn with leaves.
In quiet suburbs beneath blue sky
people bow their heads and cry.
Images within their minds reside
of the day a nation’s innocence died.
A war on terror was declared
the people of world were scared.
Far off lands were torn to shreds
as troops dragged people from their beds.
Searching for the men who dared
attack a nation so unprepared.
Patriots of the United States
were unaware of all the hates.
They didn’t understand
why people in a far off land
could hate them for the way they act
with so very little tact.
Ten years have passed since the date
when terrorists expressed their hate.
America has waged a war
With dirty tactics we all abhor.
Torture and Extraordinary Rendition
are tools of hatred by tradition.
As they bow their heads and pray
for the souls lost on that fateful day,
may they see the reason it occurred
and realise spreading hatred is absurd.
They say; all men are created equal
Lord; please help them avoid a sequel.