|1.Thomas Nilsson, Getty Images|
Usually, when you try to recall memories from long ago, they come back hazily and you have difficulty placing it in a specific location or at a certain time. But not this day. I used to live in New York City at the time and I was in Language Arts class that morning, when someone burst into the room and asked my teacher to turn on the radio. It was the first and last time that I heard a reporter sobbing during a broadcast. That evening, when my father had returned from the United Nations, we noticed an unfamiliar smell in our apartment. To my 11-year old nose, it smelled like burning rubber; a not uncommon smell in that part of Roosevelt Island. My parents told me that what I was smelling was burning flesh and asbestos.
Many people all over the world remember where they were when the attacks took place, even if they are not American citizens or have not lost loved ones. Because on that day, when the planes went into the twin towers and the Pentagon, people knew nothing would ever be the same. My father says that there was a similar feeling when the Berlin Wall fell and when the Soviet Union collapsed. But now, even more than during those momentous occasions, it is possible to trace the repercussions of this calamitous event - from that site in Manhattan to the shattered shells of Kabul and Baghdad and the shattered lives of those caught in the crossfire of war. So, when looking back, let us not only recall and pay our respects to those who died on that dark day but also to the many innocent lives that were lost subsequently; in the many '9/11s'.
In the future, let this day be commemorated through deep introspection rather than (mis)used to stir mass hysteria or paranoia. Let it not be an 'anti-4th of July', where nationalistic fervor is fanned to commemorate the taking away of independence and freedom. Along with being a day of mourning, let it be an opportunity for America to remember the values that it once strove to uphold and consider where it fell short in achieving these aims.
Coincidentally, just recently, the hull of an 18th century ship has been discovered beneath the debris of the WTC. It is well known that the banks of the Hudson River were once much wider and that as Manhattan grew, the river was gradually filled up. What is not known, is the purpose of this ship. It could have been a river trading vessel or even transport for slaves - but what is pretty much certain, is that it was sunk deliberately. (See Photo 7) The symbolism resonates.
Finally, let us also use this occasion to recollect the many acts of injustice and violence perpetrated on innocent people, communities and nations throughout history and reflect on Gandhi's famous epitaph: "Violence will prevail over violence, only when someone can prove to me that darkness can be dispelled by darkness."
Some memorable images from National Geographic, Global Post and Salon (the rights for these photos belong to the respective photographers, news agencies and websites):
|3. Suzanne Plunkett, AP|
|4. Stan Honda, AFP/Getty Images|
|5. Photograph by Jason Florio, Corbis|
|6. Photograph by Todd Maisel, NY Daily News via Getty Images|
|7. Photograph by Mark Lennihan, AP|
|8. Ben Brody, GlobalPost|
|9. James Lee, Salon|
|10. James Lee, Salon|
|11. Mohandas Gandhi encourages the Indian community of South Africa|
to participate in non-violent resistance (September 11, 1906)
|12. The coup d' etat against Salvador Allende (September 11, 1973)|
1. National Geographic, Photograph taken by Thomas Nilsson, "Frozen Moment", Getty Images, available online: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/09/pictures/110908-about-911-september-9-11-twin-world-trade-center-towers-indelible/#/september-9-11-attacks-anniversary-ground-zero-world-trade-center-pentagon-flight-93-collapsing-tower_40003_600x450.jpg (September 8, 2011)
2. Ariel Dorfman, "Epitaph for Another September 11", available online: http://www.thenation.com/article/163056/epitaph-another-september-11 (August 30, 2011)
3. National Geographic, Photograph taken by Suzanne Plunkett, "Running for their Lives", AP, available online: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/09/pictures/110908-about-911-september-9-11-twin-world-trade-center-towers-indelible/#/september-9-11-attacks-anniversary-ground-zero-world-trade-center-pentagon-flight-93-people-running-wtc_40011_600x450.jpg (September 8, 2011)
4. National Geographic, Photograph taken by Stan Honda, "Enveloped in Ashes", AFP/Getty Images, available online: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/09/pictures/110908-about-911-september-9-11-twin-world-trade-center-towers-indelible/#/september-9-11-attacks-anniversary-ground-zero-world-trade-center-pentagon-flight-93-woman-dust_39998_600x450.jpg (September 8, 2011)
5. National Geographic, Photograph taken by Jason Florio, "Street in Ruins", Corbis, available online: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/09/pictures/110908-about-911-september-9-11-twin-world-trade-center-towers-indelible/#/september-9-11-attacks-anniversary-ground-zero-world-trade-center-pentagon-flight-93-empty-street_40004_600x450.jpg (September 8, 2011)
6. National Geographic, Photograph taken by Todd Maisel, "Aiding the Injured", NY Daily News via Getty Images, available online: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/09/pictures/110908-about-911-september-9-11-twin-world-trade-center-towers-indelible/#/september-9-11-attacks-anniversary-ground-zero-world-trade-center-pentagon-flight-93-firefighters-rescuing_40008_600x450.jpg (September 8, 2011)
7. National Geographic, Photograph taken by Mark Lennihan, "Hull from Above Ground Zero", AP, available online: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/08/pictures/110830-9/11-world-trade-center-ship-ground-zero-new-york-nation-science/#/18th-century-ship-found-world-trade-center-ground-zero-overview_39802_600x450.jpg (September 8, 2011)
8. Global Post, Photograph taken by Ben Brody, "Soldiers take cover as Staff. Sgt. Jerry Pringle, a combat engineer, blows up a mud wall that is blocking their view of surrounding fields", GlobalPost, available online: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/afghanistan/101217/afghanistan-war-photos-best-pictures-2010 (December 20, 2010)
9. Salon, Photograph taken by James Lee, "Abdul Hamid is detained by Afghan National Army and International Security Assistance Force soldiers at a roadside checkpoint in Naray district, Kunar province, on Feb. 28, 2010", Salon, available online: http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2011/02/12/james_lee_photography_slide_show/slideshow.html (February 12, 2011)
10. Salon, Photograph taken by James Lee, "Breathing toxic smoke, a local worker collects scrap metal inside the open-air burn pit at Forward Operating Base Sharana in eastern Afghanistan on May 4, 2010", Salon, available online: http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2011/02/12/james_lee_photography_slide_show/slideshow.html (February 12, 2011)
11. "The Other September 11 and how Satyagraha came into existence", Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter, available online: http://cubanexilequarter.blogspot.com/2010/09/other-september-11-and-how-satyagraha.html (September 11, 2011)
12. "This day on September 11", War is Peace, available online: http://warispeace.tumblr.com/post/1104888623/today-in-history-on-september-11-1973-president (September 11, 2011)