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Yesterday saw the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington DC, which claimed the lives of nearly 3000 civilians. Memorial services were held at the three sites – ground zero, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville where hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crash-landed after brave passengers overwhelmed the hijackers.
Watching the coverage on television was, for me – as I’m sure it was for many others – incredibly moving. Ten years is a long time, but I was shocked by how much I’d forgotten. Not the events themselves of course, but the little details and how I felt that day.
I’d forgotten “Let’s roll” – the final words of Todd Beamer, a passenger on Flight 93 heard on a phone call. I’d also forgotten how it felt to be witnessing a terrorist attack – planes flying into buildings and people jumping to their deaths – and its aftermath live on 24 hour news. Although harrowing, it was refreshing – and important I think – to be reminded of what happened purely as a human tragedy rather than as a political event.
Channel 4’s documentary “Children of 9/11” did just that. Featuring interviews with children ranging from as young as three to teenagers at the time they lost a parent, the programme reminded me how for the relatives of 2,977 people 9/11 will always be personal rather than political. And as I saw how the children’s lives progressed it prompted me to reflect on the ripple effects of terrorism and how there is a whole generation of young people who never really knew a world without believing there are people in it who want to destroy them.
The documentary can be watched here