September 9, 2011

View from Canada, 10 years after 9/11

We thought a wayward private plane had crashed into the tower. Watching CNN from my desk in the newsroom at about 8:30 that morning, we quickly realized that this was no small plane and this was no small accident.

I remember going into the studio to do the day's news look-ahead, and shakily stating what the big story of the day — as it turned out, of recent history — would likely be.

This week, the world marks the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Suffice it to say, all people who were sentient at the time have their personal memories, and fortunately I had the opportunity to chronicle my thoughts in a column I wrote for the Press-Republican in the aftermath of the disaster.

Allow me to revisit some of those reflections, which in retrospect, have a certain irony.

From Sept. 21, 2001:

"The looming war on terrorism, just as it is destined to be like no other war, leaves Canada in the position of being bound to a military action by its NATO commitment, coupled with a very personal reaction to the terrorist attacks — the fact is the suicide hijackers didn't just kill Americans.

"The estimate at this hour is that at least 75 Canadians are among the people missing in the World Trade Center bombings. Almost all of these people would have been among the best and brightest who, buying into the "make it there, make it anywhere" vision, headed off to the Big Apple to make their mark.

"By any measure, the loss of 75 citizens in one blow, whether to natural disaster or human folly, is a catastrophe of the first magnitude. That they were innocent victims of fanatical murderers only compounds the heart-wrenching loss and helplessness.

"Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, who travels to Washington next week as part of President Bush's round of consultations on the war on terrorism, was about as explicit as a leader could be in expressing Canada's solidarity with the United States.

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