9-11 and the World Trade Centre Attacks

 Posted by on September 9, 2009  Add comments
Sep 092009

It’s hard to believe that eight years have passed since two commercial aeroplanes flew into the towers of the World Trade Centre in New York and influenced the course of history.

I know where I was when I heard the news.  It came via a text message from a friend who had stood with me on the top of the south tower only two years previously.

Get to a TV, the message said.

I remember watching the replay of the first strike, like watching a cartoon, and then the disbelief as the second aircraft struck. 


If you ever saw the World Trade Centre in reality, you’d be ambivalent about it, because the twin structure was absurd. Nobody in New York liked it and I can understand why.  It was ugly.  It was brash.  It was unimaginative: a triumph of engineering over architecture.

I didn’t like it.  I didn’t like the faux-Gothic motifs at ground level.  I didn’t like the dull, straight-line purity of its form, an excuse for people with no creative ability to evade their responsibility.  As a building I just didn’t like it.

But I did like the sheer scale of the thing, and just like everyone else, I laid down on my back, on the plaza below, and stared up along the endless, vanishing-point side of the thing, trying to comprehend its sheer vastness.


Of course, just like everyone else, I’m also speechless when I stand next to a commercial aircraft.  Even though I know a little bit about the physics of the  thing, it still amazes me that such a brute of a machine can lift itself from a  concrete runway and power into the sky.  That is astonishing.

So here we are, looking at a great building on the TV screen, when an aircraft appears and vanishes into the side of it, and we’re thinking, shit, there’s a little plane that’s crashed into the WTC, until we realise that it isn’t a two-seater Cessna.  It’s an airliner with 300 people in it.  A big jet, the size of all our houses put together.  Twenty buses.  Big.


You’re looking at the people beside you and they’re all thinking the same thing.

What the fuck?

You’re watching smoke pouring out of the windows with real force. Real dynamic pressure and not just a few wisps drifting out from a small fire.  This is a conflagration.

People are jumping out of windows.  They’re floating downwards.

Autumn leaves.

You don’t know why this is happening, why these peaceful people are floating down from a thousand feet up, but you can guess, and you can imagine what it’s like at the sidewalk too as the floaters strike the concrete.  But really, you don’t know what this thing is that you’re looking at.

And so you sit there, in stupefied disbelief until something else happens.

What?  Well, here comes a second plane, and it slams into the other tower and then you realise this isn’t a terrible accident.  This is deliberate.

What the fuck?

You go quiet because you can’t process the information, and anyway the towers are too big to comprehend.  You turn to your friends and you ask the only relevant question: what the fuck?

There’s a little hiatus, while you wonder how they’re going to get the people out but suddenly everything takes a turn that perhaps even the attackers didn’t predict.  As fast as you can look at it, the south tower collapses.  The one hit by the second plane.

Everyone stares at the TV screen.  Nobody knows what to say.

What the fuck?

How did it fall down?

Somebody makes coffee and you relax a bit. What about that?

This is the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen in real time but then, because you know a little bit about such matters, but mostly because you aren’t fucking blind, you notice that the radio mast on the North tower is starting to wobble, and suddenly it dawns on you that this one is about to collapse too, but you don’t quite comprehend the meaning of it all.

It’s going to fall, you tell your friends.  It’s going to fucking fall.

You’ve been at the top of these towers, so you know how huge they are, and saying something like They’re going to fall makes no sense, but they are.

They are going to fall.


Only two years ago you were standing on top of these things.


Also on Bock:

The New Big Lie

  23 Responses to “9-11 and the World Trade Centre Attacks”

Comments (23)

    Just to add my personal story:

    For my mother’s 50th birthday in 1991, Dad took her to New York where they climbed the Empire State (that being the better building architecturally I suppose). They made a plan to come back someday and climb the WTC (a better view).

    For one reason or another, they never quite got around to it. But if they had done, it probably would have been on her 60th–and I think you can guess exactly what date that fell on.

    Happy Birthday on Friday, Mum. No-one forgets it now!



    Nice1Both of ye.


    In a previous professional incarnation I worked for a Company who had offices in the South Tower. Although based in Blighty I had daily contact with my colleagues there and on the occasions I visited New York I would meet up with them for dinner. On that morning I watched knowing that I would probably never speak to some of my friends from that office again. It made a surreal event real for me.


    Unforgettable event getting to and viewing New York from the WTC in the 80s. My brother was scared to go to NYC, but we had a great time at the top. A bit windy, but very dramatic. I only have black and white photographs as evidence. We were in California and did not have a telly. Our next door neighbour banged on the door and made us come and watch. I eventually went to work. No work done that day. America stood and watched in disbelief. The world had changed.

    We flew out of SF on the first day of flying after the flying ban. It was like flying in a war zone. Very surreal, given how easy going things were before our friends from Saudi Arabia flew into some buildings.


    When it happened., I told my bosses at work and then, they went back to work. ( so much for my bosses, so much for American multi-nationals in Ireland ) . I looked around at my work colleagues who by now were all staring at a frozen internet, transfixed and shocked from 2000 miles. I refused to bear witness and legged it home to my misses and two kids. I saw the TV and refused again to bear witness so I put our then youngest boy into his buggy and started walking. I walked for the next three hours until I was exhausted.

    Good story Mr Robber. Poignant from Darwin. Think there’ll be a flood on this one .

    Did you see that C4 documentary on Monday evening? A collage of footage from punters who had cameras and phones, over which where the director cut in emergency calls to and from the towers. Equally as shocking as the first time I bore witness on the same dammed TV.


    My Nice was working two blocks away when it happened. It took a long time to contact her and we thought she was gone. Luckily she was not, but so many were , a dreadful loss of people from all over the world. I too was on the observation deck in the past and to say the view was “awesome” would be an understatement. I recall a couple jumped hand in hand and to this day I weep when I think of them. An appalling sick and stupid act that has cost thousands of lives in places all over the world.


    I think most people will recall where they were on that day, i was at home, saw the 2nd plane live on tv, my eldest daughter was flying home, in the air, she knew nothing until she landed, i went from total normal to total terror in 2 seconds, i still remember thinking this act will change the world forever, and it has, it was reprehensible and the sadness will reverberate forever.


    I was 16 at the time, and was just about to leave to football training before my dad dragged me into the sitting room. The first plane had already struck by then and I thought I was just seeing a fire that had just broke out in one of the towers.

    BAM! The second plane hits the other tower and the dots connected in my head, my jaw dropped and was just amazed by it all. Left late for football and noticed that I still arrived there as one of the first. It was supposed to be 90 minutes, but we spent over almost an hour in the dressing rooms just recounting what we all saw.

    Surreal to say the least.


    Really excellent post, superb piece of writing.


    An appalling act of terror on our city, I say our city because NYC belongs to the world. Its streets are a living embodiment of the UN. Every race, colour and creed living cheek by jowel, not always in harmony, but at least living. Then along came a spider. Two crashes and a million conspiracy theories. The worlds airlines were grounded, except for one plane which flew home the Saudi royals. The heads of state of most of the perpetrators. What next? “I know we’ll attack Afghanistan, Bin Laden has a mobile home there. And then we’ll attack Iraq. That oul fucker Sadam must know something, he’s a dictator. Unlike George W, he was elected.” Unlike the other 9/11 victim, Allende. He was also elected. How many have died since in Kabul, Bagdad and other bombed out villages? Who knows? Who cares? George and Tony are free to make millions on the lecture circuit, after lying openly about WMD. Mean while I can’t take a bottle of water on board a flight. Strange world.


    Indeed. That’s the subject of the next post.


    It’s not strange that you can’t take a bottle of liquid on board a flight. Three ugly looking Islamic extremists have been found guilty, just this week, of plotting to kill thousands of people, by exploding liquid bombs concealed in drinks containers, on transatlantic flights.


    Finbarr, they’re the same three fellas that were tried in 2006. It’s not as if there has been a spate of attacks around the world since. After Tony’s little porkies and the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes it’s hard to have much faith in British justice.


    Maybe there hasn’t been a spate of attacks because people aren’t allowed to bring drinks onto planes.
    I’d rather be safe in the air.


    So would I Finbarr, so would I. There was also a shoe bomber, Richard Reid. Howcome I never have to travel in my socks? I never take my shoes off at the xray machines.

    PS you can buy water / liquids in the air side shop, I presume it can be tampered with there as well.


    Thank God they banned nail-files and people with swarthy complexions.


    Shoe bombs would have metallic detonators that will set off the alarm in the walk through metal detector.
    When this happens, you put your shoes in a tray, to be put through the X-ray machine. Nail files are banned, but swarthy complexions are allowed for the moment.


    A bunch of Israelis were arrested on one flight because the security people decided they had funny accents and looked like Arabs.


    Finbarr, you are worryingly au fait with different bombs and detonators etc, Have you been caught or just thorough research? Bock is his IP address in Cuba?

    The point that I am making is that America has suffered one atrocity on its soil and the world must learn a new dance. America has interfered with many democratically elected Governments around the world and never cared that it was out of step. Its own intransigent policies in the Middle East may account for a lot.


    I wasn’t going to open that can o’ worms!

    Check out a film called “War on democracy” for a very detailed and well-researched account of how the US has been and still is influencing governments throughout Latin America.

    On a sidenote, over 4.700 people die every single minute in the US alone, puts 9/11 in perspective.


    Bock, this captured very accurately how difficult it was to fully comprehend the towers falling. I will add that a few days after, I went down to Wall Street to bring my sister down some lunch. (I worked in midtown, she worked in the financial district, they had no restaurants/delis open) At that time the pile was still smoldering and the “grating” if you will was still sticking up several stories high in a pile of roasting debris. The side streets still had inches of ash on the window sills. Triple fired ash, like the powder in a self cleaning oven. I remember looking at the smouldering pile and thinking “my mind is not big enough to absorb all this”. I just couldn’t get my head around it.


    Yup, saw it live on tv whilst browsin’ the net…scared the bejeesus outta me too, did’nt let the missus go to work next day..was off meself anyway (work at international airport meself )….and I live in Sydney! For an interesting conspiratorial viewpoint, have a look at ‘Zeitgeist’


    If I remember correctly was there not 5 guys arrested shortly after the attacks who were celebrating by dancing and cheering,who turned out later to be Israeli agents!!.

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