September 11th 2001 started out as a glorious day. So glorious in fact that I had decided to be a bit lazy and take the morning off. This would allow me to get up later, have a nice breakfast, etc. But as the morning show was ending on the radio the announcer got all serious and said something about a plane crashing into one of the towers of the World Trade Center but the details were very vague as it had just happened. That got me out of bed in a hurry and I went straight to CNN. First expecting that some noob pilot had smashed his Cessna 172 into the building, it was clear that it was something more serious judging by the size of the hole in the building and the amount of smoke coming out. This day was about to get a lot more interesting but at this point I didn't know to what level. Time to make some coffee and keep watching the events unfolding.
As the CNN reporters were describing the scene the unbelievable happened live right in front of my eyes; in a fraction of a second a passenger plane, now known to be United Airlines Flight 175, appeared on the right edge of my TV screen and literally cut the second tower in half. I barely had time to digest what had just happened that I was startled by my ringing phone. It was my then soon-to-be girlfriend who was also a co-worker, frantically telling me "Ben! Do not come to work! All court activities have been stopped and we may even be evacuated!". OK, this shit all of a sudden got very serious. And needless to say, all sorts of Hell broke loose on all TV channels, radio channels, the Internet, etc. And that's when we learned that the planes had been hijacked by terrorists and turned into massive kamikaze bombs. It dawned on me that two planes hijacked in the world's biggest super-power and striking the biggest landmark in one of the world's biggest cities meant one thing: there could be more of those in the air. My fears were realized a few minutes later when the Pentagon, the biggest military seat on the entire planet, got hit. I immediately thought of only one thing: DEFCON 1. World War Three. I immediately went on the web to find out if something else was going on in other countries. I read the reports of buildings being evacuated all over the place, especially the big ones like the Sears Tower, the Petronas towers, even Place Ville-Marie here in Montreal. The two buildings then collapsed and the rest is history on the darkest scale.
It was quite eerie to see the skies completely devoid of aircraft, except for the screeching roar of an F-18 fighter jet once in a while. This may not have been the start of WW3 as I had feared, but it was clear that the world as I had previously known it a day earlier was no more.
Over the years I have met many Americans online through various games, and I know that pretty much all of them were affected in one way or another by those dark events. I've also met a few New Yorkers and even a few years after the events some were still very sensitive around the 9/11 subject. I fully understand this. So here we are, ten years after the world was brought to a grinding halt by a bunch of religious fanatics. But the New Yorkers have picked themselves up and now not only is a new World Trade Center being built, it will be even more grandiose than the previous one, with a special memorial to honor those who have lost their lives on that horrible day that had started out so beautifully.
If you have lost someone who was dear to you, or if you know of someone who knows someone who got caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, my heart goes out to you and I salute your courage.
I very rarely say it but this is the day to say it: Fly Safe.