The Way It Was: 9/11 Remembered

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Sep 21 2021
Focus The Way It Was: 9/11 Remembered

I watched on BBC News the 20th anniversary commemorations at the memorial in Manhattan, New York, the Pentagon in Virginia, Washington DC and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the hijacked American planes crashed, respectively, into the Twin Towers and Pentagon and to the ground on 11 September 2001. The third plane missed its target which could have been the White House or Capitol in Washington DC, because the hijackers were tackled by the pilot and co-pilot in the cockpit and crew of domestic American Flight 93. All three commemorations were attended by US President Biden and the US First Lady. 

The ceremonies were solemn, dignified and stressed on those who had died in the three disasters or had sacrificed their lives, either being passengers and crew of the commercial American flights or firemen and police. In the Manhattan ceremony all the names of those who perished were read by surviving relatives, in groups of two. 

The attacks 

The stark and totally inhuman cruelty and meticulous planning of focused minds of evil are unimaginable. To think of hitting on a plan to hijack commercial flights and then for the hijackers among whom were pilots to take over the piloting of the planes and then ram them into the selected targets. The main planners were Osama bin Laden, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Mohammed Atef – all within the Al Queda in then Talibanruled Afghanistan. The irony was there were critics of Obama and his team who had a batch of Seals enter the house in which Osama had taken refuge in Pakistan and shot him dead. The censor was that killing this fiend was done when he was defenseless. He should have been given a different death rather than clean shooting; maybe hung and tortured for Americans to see. 


Inkoo Kang, TV critic, writing on 9 September 2021 says: “The dozens of late August and early September TV specials memorialising the 20th anniversary of 9/11 has proved that we discuss and are affected by that day’s events for a full 20 years. The difficult question now is how to remember and reflect upon an event that transformed the Unite States, arguably far more than it should have.” Nearly 3,000 people were killed on that day; wars were launched; and the carefree, fearless mood of the US changed to fear accompanied by Islamaphobia. Inkoo Kang rates the Netflix documentary ‘Turning Point: 9/11 and the war on terror’ the best – “most honest and exhaustive retrospective” of many produced for this 20th anniversary of the event. 

I watched the five part series and it was stunning, so truthful and accurate. Many a time I got tears in my eyes as those who were caught in it like policewomen, guards, detectives, firemen told their stories. Sections from much footage were edited to make one long visual narrative. Horrific it was afresh to see the two planes plough into the North and South Trade Center towers, and their burning and then collapsing with people jumping off the towers and crowds running all over. snowed over by dust and debris. 

‘The Turning Point: 9/11 and….., was directed by Brian Knappenberger. Not only does the TV series document the destruction caused by the four hi-jacked planes; it also shows the results - war on Afghanistan leading to the Iraq conflict; the justification of torture by the George W Bush administration plus a general pall of unrest and fear descending on the US. It looks back on the blunders in the ‘war on terror’, the atrocities at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and Rumsfeld, Bush and Britain’s Tony Blair. There have been truly iconic shots in film, TV and photographic history. 

Those readers who are of a certain senior age will remember the famous photograph that first appeared in the Life Magazine I presume of 1945, of a GI kissing and bending backwards a girl as he returns to civilian life after WW II. Another stunning shot was of utterly destroyed Hiroshima. The photograph of the crying naked girl, running away from the exploding napalm bomb in Vietnam, is a later never-to-be-forgotten one. 

I suppose the latest would be the smoke and fire emitting upper floors of the twin towers in Manhattan. A stunning iconic video clip would be the collapse of the two towers sending huge clouds of dust skywards. The profoundest thought is that all these are consequences of man-made evil. There is good too – the excellently subtle memorial where the twin towers stood, with two straight tall lights shooting far up to the skies. May such horrendous events of 9/11 never take place again! 


CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Sep 21 2021

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