On Monday, April 15th, 2013, a couple of brothers set off a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon that killed three and wounded hundreds of others. Just as I remembered exactly where I was and what I was doing when the tragedy of 9/11 happened, I still remember clearly where I was when I heard the news of this latest tragedy.
I had been spending the day with two friends who had travelled from Atlanta, GA, to Charleston, SC, to meet me on my long-overdue return to the USA. We’d spent the day at Drayton Hall, a former plantation that is now owned and managed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It had been a rainy day but an enjoyable one hanging out with friends.
When I got back “home” to where I had been staying with my university friend (and the reason for my visit to Charleston) in the early evening, she’d had the television on while preparing dinner. The coverage of the bombing was all over the news. First reactions always include: Who would do such a thing? Why? How many innocent lives have been lost or are injured? Where are those responsible? The manhunt commenced immediately, of course, and security was heightened everywhere.
It is Tuesday 22nd February, 2011. I have spent the better part of my day today glued to the television but it is not what you think. I have been watching the rolling coverage of the earthquake that hit 10km south-east of Christchurch, in the South Island of beautiful New Zealand, At 6.3 magnitude, it has been deemed to be less severe than the earthquake that hit the same area last September, where there had been no loss of lives. However, the devastation has been unprecedented this time – the quake hit at 12.51pm local time on a Tuesday afternoon, when people were at work or outside having lunch, and kids were in class at school. Christchurch was still rebuilding from the September earthquake, and many buildings had been weakened by that quake, exacerbating the impact of today’s quake. As I write, the confirmed death toll stands at 65 and is expected to rise as more than 200 people remain unaccounted for.
Our Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, spoke in Parliament earlier, announcing that a search and rescue (SAR) team was already on its way to help our neighbours across the Tasman (NZ is approximately 3hrs south-east of the Australian east coast – even closer than we are from Central and Western Australia). She reminded us of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) spirit, that we rise to the occasion and provide whatever assistance we could to help our neighbours, as they experience one of the “darkest days” in NZ.