Wednesday, June 29, 2011

9/11 - 10 years later ... what did we learn?

My eye was caught this morning by this article in the New York Times.
photo ©2001, Laurance Fendrick
For nearly 10 years, The New York Times has reported on the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the subsequent local and global effects of the worst terrorist attacks ever to occur on American soil. Now, with the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks a few months away, we want to hear from you.
During several days this summer, journalists on our multimedia team will be stationed at locations around New York and the region with video cameras, ready to record your thoughts about Sept. 11. Our purpose is to answer the question: What did you learn from 9/11?
It made me start thinking about it. You have all seen my personal account of that day, but what was learned is something I have never thought about before.

I think that we have had to learn that as large a country as we are, we are still vulnerable to terrorism. No foreign attacks on US soil had occurred since the War of 1812 (Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was a US territory at the time it was bombed by the Japanese), and I think that none of us thought it could happen here. There was the Oklahoma City bombing, but that was carried out by one of our own. The first clue we had was the bombing in the World Trade Center parking garage a few years earlier.

However, we have become the country that others have come to hate, so had we been thinking logically, the attacks of 9/11 were inevitable.

It certainly makes us think about the fragility of life. How many left their homes that morning and never returned to their families? These were not soldiers in the Middle East who knew their lives were in danger, but were victims of that war nonetheless.

So I ask you ... what do you think was learned by the events of 9/11 and the days following? What did you learn personally? If you live in the US - what should we have learned? If you live outside of the US, how was your country affected, if at all? (I am particularly interested in the non-US point of view so please share your thoughts.)

I look forward to reading your comments (below) on this ...


  1. Wow Mark, you like to invoke the best out of people.... I have thought about my response to you blog post for a few days. So here goes, I hope it's worth the wait.

    I remember waking in the morning to go to work and hearing on the news something about a plane hitting the world trade centre... I was like no way! Through the next few hours of watching the stroy unfold on the television the world changed.

    So here is my take on it.

    Initially there was a numbness, a sense of helplessness as people had to deal with greif in their own way. I remember distincly thinking this is going to be one of those moments that you remember every detail of, like where was I, what was I doing and who was I with.

    Of course there was the initial kneejerk reaction where you could not open a Blockbuster Video account with verifying you mothers maiden name, but security seemed to go into overdrive... understandably so. People became hesitant to fly, and in general I think there was a vulnerability that really effected peoples psyche.

    I saw places like Canberra, supposedly a possible terrorist target, tighten up, parliament house had more security, John Howard (George Dubyas lapdog) spoke of the need for change the need for understanding the need for the war on terror, I was shocked and it was then that I realised governments really have no idea. I don't see how that will ever be possible, while people are free to think for themselves there is always going to be those few that for whatever reason be it person, political or religious that seek to take the lives of the innocent. I am not being melodramatic it is just the way I see it, by all means hunt the cold hearted leaders of these organisations down and hold them accountable but please lets be realistic about what we aim for.

    Every precaution should, nay must be taken to ensure the lives of the people but at what point do we say enough is enough. We need to live our lives not under the possibility of threat but under the possibility of progress.

    These sad events have made the world we live in a much closer community. No longer is there the attitude that the good old US of A will take care of things, and that is a good thing we all need to do our bit. Great that we now have a global view on terrorist but sad that it took these events to bring about such change.

    As a footnote I would like to thank all who put themselves in those roles that we rely on so heavily, whether it be military, police, medical or firefighters I am grateful for all that you do.

    Pete (I have prattled on too much sorry)

  2. I learned that the world wasn't what I thought it was. I learned that I lived in a bubble, and had no idea that terrorism on that level existed.

    I was pregnant with our first child - I learned that I was very scared about the type of world that I was bringing her in to. About how the world that I had thought - believed - to be so safe, was in fact a dangerous place. Far more dangerous than I could have ever imagined!

    I also learned that the world would never be the same. People would never look at their neighbours again without suspicion. They'd never walk down the street again and look at a Muslim family with interest and curiosity, but instead with contempt and fear.

    I'm sure that there are other things that I have learned...and I may come back and add more if I think of them...but for the moment, those are the main ones (I think!!)

  3. Bel - I think that may be one of the saddest things that has come of this has been the unwarranted mistrust of Muslims ... the vast majority of whom condemn terrorism as strongly of other segments of society.