Everyone has a story to tell of where they were when a significant news event happened: I was late to school the morning I watched the Challenger explode shortly after blast-off in 1986; I was with my Dad and brother-in-law buying a new air-conditioner the afternoon news broke that Michael Hutchence (lead singer of Aussie band INXS) was found dead in his hotel room in 1997; I was with my parents driving into the city as news trickled in with reports of the car accident that eventually took the life of Diana, Princess of Wales that same year.
Of all the global tragedies during my lifetime so far, there is no doubt the attacks of September 11, 2001, will forever be ingrained in my mind. I remember, as if it was only yesterday, that fateful day when the twin towers of the World Trade Centre (WTC) came down after two planes hijacked by terrorists crashed into those buildings in the heart of New York City.
It was late at night in Sydney when the first plane flew into the North Tower. I had been working on an assignment in my study. My TV was on in the living room – I was waiting for The West Wing to start. It was nothing unusual that programs regularly did not start on time. I kept going out to the living room every couple of minutes to check if the program had started yet. At first, I thought the TV station had changed its programming to some late-night disaster movie when I saw smoke billowing from an office tower. Then I realised it was “Breaking News”.
Like everyone else, I was stunned and horrified at what I was seeing. There was no real explanation as to what was going on. Reports told of a tragic plane crash – everyone thought it was an accident. It had to be. How else could you explain what had happened?