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article imageOp-Ed: September 11 — Terror attacks that changed our world

By Gemma Fox     Sep 4, 2011 in World
On September 11 this year it will have been 10 years since the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon. The attacks had a significant impact on me, they changed me and they changed the world.
I remember vividly what I was doing in the early afternoon of September 11 2001. I was getting organised for a long weekend in Cardiff and because we were travelling on the train from Edinburgh I had decided to make up a mix of music on cassette for my personal stereo. Life's biggest concern at that moment was would I have enough space on one cassette for all the songs I wanted or would I have to make up two tapes.
I was aware of the time being near 2pm (nearing 9am New York time) because I hadn't had lunch yet, I'd been packing and preparing for the trip. Then there was a knock on the wall, my Dad calling me through. I went through. He had just turned on one of the news channels in time to get the headlines at 2 o'clock but they were streaming live from New York.
It seemed there had been a tragic accident, a passenger jet, it was assumed, had flown into the north tower of the World Trade Center.
The images were horrific, black smoke billowing into an endless blue sky. I sat down on the sofa. Although, at that point it seemed like an horrific accident I had a very unsettled feeling in my stomach. At that point I put it down to the sheer enormity of the incident. This wasn't a passenger plane crashing into the sea or a field where a rescue operation could be mounted immediately this was a jet crashed into the top half of one of the towers. I couldn't even comprehend how people could be rescued, especially people above the crash floors.
Then, as I sat there with my Dad talking about the people in the tower and on the plane and the time of day and wondering how busy the building was, something else began to occur. News presenters voices took on urgency. My Dad and I fell silent. Our eyes were locked on the screen. This could not be true. Another plane. Live on TV, watched by my Dad, myself and millions of other people a plane flew low and smashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center.
September 11 attacks.
September 11 attacks.
Lil' Mike
In that split second everything changed. The incident had gone from being an accident to what could only be terrorism.
I felt this complete and utter feeling of dread and uncertainty. Anyone who was capable of taking planes and crashing them into the WTC were capable of taking several planes and crashing them where they liked. Was London at threat? Or only targets in the USA? I had this fear that in Edinburgh the castle could be at risk. Irrational feeling now but at the time utterly plausible. It seemed certain, at the time, that they'd say that Parliament in London was also under attack. Nothing could be ruled out.
It seems dramatic to say it now, ten years later, but at the time I had this feeling that on Tuesday September 11 2001 the world might actually end. In a sense, it did.
After watching for a little while in the living room I returned to my bedroom and watched the unfolding events on Sky News. The Pentagon had been attacked and I felt certain they would try to hit the White House. Why wouldn't they? I wondered if the plane which hit the Pentagon may have been meant for the White House.
They talked, on the news, of people jumping out of windows hundreds of feet up and I couldn't then, and still can't now, comprehend why they would do that. It's been suggested since that it was jump or be burned to death and that the heat inside the tower at the crash levels was so intense. No matter their reasoning I know those people who jumped were brave because they knew it was certain death.
Watching the south tower of the WTC crumble less than an hour after the plane had impacted into it all I could think about was the people. All the people. The workers, the rescue teams, the people on the ground. All the people who would have died in that instant. Half an hour later it happened again with the north tower collapsing.
I watched the news the whole day, at times just finding myself staring at the TV not really comprehending what was going on but also understanding that things were different now. America had been attacked, and violently attacked and they wouldn't take that easily.
Taken on Sept.14.  Hoping to find survivors.
Taken on Sept.14. Hoping to find survivors.
Marion Doss
Under a month later I was in a car with my friend, we were going bowling a very normal event, when the news announcer on the radio said that air strikes had begun on Kabul. The fight against the Taliban, al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden had begun.
September 11th 2001 changed my life. It didn't make me join the army or anything dramatic as that but it made me think about things differently. Before, a suitcase on the bus left by an absent-minded owner was just that, after, it had the potential to be something more sinister.
The world changed, people became more suspicious, maybe even more paranoid. Police forces were asking people to report suspicious packages. Not just in places where terrorism had happened before but everywhere. We began hearing things called "Terror Threat Levels" and sorts of things like that.
On September 11 2001 America changed. As I watched hours of news things started to happen. Flights were grounded, borders shut. Later on at night, I was still watching and a news presenter said something which sounds odd to hear because you can never imagine it, she said "tonight, America is shut". It was a poignant statement. America had been hurt and, for the time being it had battened down the hatches. No one was getting in. No one was getting out.
It was the World Trade Center
It was the World Trade Center
Marion Doss
If there was one other thing that happened on that day it was that my love of news was ignited. It had always been there but after 9/11 if there was breaking news I'd study it. I'd watch hours of news. If it's news, I'll watch it, I'll study it. Some friends joke that I am their news source.
I don't think a single person can say that 9/11 didn't affect them. It did in some way. Whether it made you patriotic or whether it turned you against your country. Whether it made you suspicious or paranoid. Whether it made you look at situations in different ways or regard people differently it changed the way you are.
This article is part of Digital Journal's project to remember September 11. If you have a story to tell, join us on Facebook and Twitter, and post your memories to Digital Journal. Full details on how to participate can be found here. You can also read other submissions on our September 11 Anniversary page.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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