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9/11 - PART ONE

11-09-2006

Liberty

On the fifth anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers Andy Goff offers a personal reflection...

I was in a warehouse in East London listening to Steve Wright on Radio 2 on September 11th 2001. The previous year I had been in New York with my daughter and we had taken a helicopter ride round Manhattan and had soared over the Statue of Liberty. I had been taking photographs as fast I could. The helicopter turned and we were opposite the twin towers of the World Trade Centre.

On previous visits to New York I had arrived at Newark Airport and marvelled at the size of the Twin Towers. At night they sparkled like spires of jewels. Gleaming in the sky, they fired the imagination. Who worked there, what were they doing, why were so many lights on revealing, if only you could look in as if passing a row of terraced houses on the north circular, people living their lives high above the city.

My intention had been to go back to New York and eat at the top of one of the towers. As it was my daughter and I went up the Empire State building and looked back down Manhattan. The World Trade Centre was immense. And what a target!

As the helicopter turned I was struck by the fact that I was photographing the mid sections of the Twin Towers. We were nowhere near being level with the top. And yet I could see we were floating well above the Hudson River.

On the following morning, September 12th, as the full horror of what had happened the previous day was permeating the human consciousness, I was filling my car with petrol at the Brighton end of the A23 and opposite was a chap doing similarly. In a normal world not a word would be exchanged but that morning was different. The chat went something like this….

Man with Porsche - Terrible news yesterday

Me with VW Polo - Yes. It's a scary world.

Man - It's hard to know what will happen next

Me - What worries me is the reaction from the Americans. The giant will be stirred.

Man - I suppose the cost of petrol will go up

Me - I guess so

We went our anonymous ways but that meeting stuck in my mind. It's pretty unusual to strike up a conversation while pumping petrol, at least in Britain. It must have been a significant occasion.

Five years later and those that died have been so let down by those who claim to act on their behalf. Their government, voted for at least by some of those that died that day, engaged in acts of vengeance that caused death and destruction well beyond that which killed them.

The suicidal zealots who took over the planes caused destruction and misery far beyond their comprehension because of the willingness of deranged western governments to seek revenge; thus matching the fundamentalism of the zealots.

In the end the mass murderers achieved more than they expected. A rise in fanaticism, a fearful western society, a divided Europe and a world turned upside down.

We played into the hands of the fanatics by being fanatical ourselves.
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