Five Years Later
The words I wrote on this blog two years ago still ring true, and I feel them even more profoundly today. I have very little to add to them, and thus I'll reprint them and add a couple brief comments at the end.
My morning on September 11, 2001, began much like any other person's day. I woke up, had a shower, and started getting ready for school. At 7:20am, my day, my life, and the world as I knew it changed forever. After my aunt answered the phone and came rushing into my room to tell me to turn on the news, I saw it: the smouldering inferno coming out of the second tower of the World Trade Centre. The announcers on CNN immediately filled me in on what was happening: two planes had hit the towers, and it was not an accident. The first tower had come down approximately 20 minutes earlier. At 7:28am, I watched, live, as it happened, the second tower come down.
It was so difficult to process what I was watching. I was horrified at the images flashing before me, and soon CNN began receiving video recordings of the planes actually hitting the World Trade Centre. There were also reports coming in of the Pentagon being struck, and soon there was a split screen of the tragedies unfolding in New York and Washington. It was all too much. I don't know anybody who lost their lives on that day; over the course of the past three years I have to come know people who knew people that did die though. September 11th has affected me profoundly, something that I had no personal connection to other than the loss of my brothers and sisters in humanity. Seeing thousands of people die in an instant, all because they were Americans or people of other nationalities who did not share the same murderous ideology of Osama bin Laden and his followers, was absolutely heart-breaking. Then came the images of Palestinians dancing and celebrating in the streets. CNN and countless other news channels replayed the images of the planes hitting the two towers, the towers smouldering, and finally collapsing. It was an overwhelmingly negative experience and I didn't know how much more I could bear.
But then came the uplifting stories, the stories of New Yorkers banding together, of selfless heroes of the NYPD and FDNY charging into buildings to save people at the expense of their own lives, of thousands of Canadian people taking people from all those diverted flights into their homes, and of a comment made by one Jacques Chirac: "We are all Americans." The civilized world, the world that will not stand for the tactics of terror, hatred, and oppression, united because of September 11th. And then came President Bush's speech from Ground Zero only days after the tragedy. Surrounded by smoke from fires still burning underground, and by the incredibly courageous heroes of 9/11, Bush promised that the people who knocked down the towers would hear from all of us soon.
In that moment, George W. Bush's entire presidency was defined. He would be the man who would lead the world in the new conflict to stamp out terrorism. In that moment, across the Canadian border and on the other side of the continent, he became *my* president. I stood, from my home, with all the people who had gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to mourn the loss of life and demonstrate the unity of the free world against terrorism and tyranny. I sat and mourned for and with everybody who lost their loved ones. I stood for freedom, for liberty, for democracy, for everything that makes Canada, the United States, and all of the free world, great. I still do, and I am forever empowered by the terrible, tragic memories of that horrible day in September 2001. I will not falter in my strength and conviction to make this world a better place for all men and women. I will not weaken in my support for the countries of this world that have taken a stand against terror and against those countries who would seek to utilize the most devastating weapons created by man to destroy innocent life. I believe in the idealism of America, because Canadians hold so many of those same values near and dear to our hearts. The dream of making the world a better place is an irresistible calling, and anybody who embraces that dream has my full and undying support.
It's a beautiful sunny morning here in Halifax today, one that is eerily reminiscent of this day five years ago. I believe everything I said in 2004 and I still stand by my convictions. I haven't faltered, I haven't wavered. I honour the memory of the almost 3000 people who died on this day, and those who have lost their lives since then in the efforts to liberate and re-structure the Middle East from the grip of tyranny and terrorism. They are true heroes, and deserve full recognition and respect. Never forget what this day means or those who we lost.