The generation before mine were the ones who got asked the question “where were you when Kennedy got shot?”. We got the towers.
I was at home, just turned on the radio whilst making lunch and getting ready for my late shift at work. There was talk of a plane that had hit one of the Twin Towers. From the sound of it I got the impression that some guy with bad luck and worse flying skills had the tail of his Cessna hanging out of an office window, or something like that.
When I got to work, however, I got slapped in the face with the news that the Cessna had turned into two jumbo sized airliners. Not long after that we got fresh video of the first tower collapsing, mere minutes after it happened.
I do support work for an ISP. There weren’t many calls that day, presumably because most people were glued to the TV for pretty obvious reasons. Most of the ones who did call wanted help to watch the foreign (i.e. American and British) news channels on the ‘Net. Although it was outside our support area in those days, having thoroughly searched the Web ourselves to find decent video streams we were quite able to assist.
Casualty estimates at the time varied between ten and thirty thousand, and the media coverage was a complete overload. I think the pictures of those who jumped were the ones that hit me the hardest. I can watch recordings of the crashes and the collapses with a kind of morbid fascination, but the jumpers still get me.
I’m not American, I live pretty far from New York and Ground Zero, and I’ve never even been there, but with the familiarity of those buildings and the rest of the NYC cityscape from movies and otherwise, it felt as if it was happening in my own neighbourhood.
As it happens we got our Parliament election results that same morning, and I was going to email a handful of American friends some humorous thoughts about the odd thing of suddenly having a religious leader (priest) for Prime Minister. That whole thing sort of boiled away in the events of the day …