It seems like a long time now. Five years ago 19 murderous hijackers took four planes, three of which were crashed into buildings in New York and Washington. Canadian singing artist, Amanda Marshall had a hit song called “Everybody Has Got A Story”. Here is mine of that day five years ago.
I had left with my wife to travel to Woodstock Ontario. I had planned on attending a farm show. We often listen to the radio, but for whatever reason that morning we were engaged in conversation. The radio didn’t get turned on. The 90-minute ride to Woodstock on a stunningly beautiful day was wonderful.
When we got to Woodstock I took the wrong exit off 401. In any case my wife asked me to stop. She had to get something. She left the car and I sat back passing the time of day. In such situations I often turn the radio on. Not this time. I just sat there until she came back.
We arrived at the show parking lot. We were going to take a shuttle over to the exhibits. As we lined up for a shuttle somebody in front of us said “They’ll probably have the Toronto airport shut down by tonight.” I thought to myself, “what’s that about?” I muttered something to my wife. She said she didn’t know.
On getting on the bus we were inundated by a representative of the farm show telling us what we could expect at the show. Her dissertation was interrupted by the sudden fury of my 2001 cell phone ringing. It was my father-in-law calling from Stratford. I thought this is strange. However, I didn’t have much time to consider that. He was frantic, asking me if I knew what was going on? I said no. Then he told me there had been two planes crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York. The Pentagon had been bombed. My heart sank as I handed the phone to my wife.
When I stepped off the bus I wondered what I was doing here. I wanted to go home. It was obviously a “world-changing day”. What in heck was I doing looking at tractors!
It got worse. I walked several hundreds yards and you could hear the talk. I overheard one guy say, “they are all probably somewhere figuring out who to bomb first!” Then I heard there was a plane down in Pennsylvania. Then I moved to a Bell Expressvu satellite television display, very new for the time. They had CNN on and that’s where I started to piece together just how bad this whole thing was.
I had to get home. In my mind what was happening in Toronto. I could imagine a strike in Toronto would send people out onto the 401 chocking it with traffic. At the same time the border might be closed making 401 a parking lot. I was 90 minutes from home and responsibilities to meet. My cell phone wouldn’t work. We quickly let the farm show. We’d only been there an hour.
On the way home the radio, which had been unfortunately turned off all morning now surged with horrific details coming out of New York and Washington. We also learned tall buildings in Toronto were being evacuated. The sky had no airplanes. It seemed to take forever to get home.
Five years later we have local kids being killed in Afghanistan fighting an enemy, which supported the evil that day. I no longer feel jittery. I no longer wonder if I’ll get home. 911 means much more than an emergency number. What I do know is the world changed that day and five years later we’re still paying for it.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said last Monday.
“Canada has acted when the United Nations has asked. And as the events of Sept. 11 so clearly illustrate, the horrors of the world will not go away if we turn a blind eye to them, no matter how far off them may be.”
Yes, it is different now. Or is it? I cannot imagine feeling again in 2006 how I felt that morning five years ago. Maybe I’m naïve. Maybe I just don’t get it. Sure it could happen again.
In the year 2000 I took a flight from Toronto to New York on my way to Bangladesh. It was late on a winter’s day and as we descended toward landing the pilot told us to look out the window. What we saw was a beautiful view of New York City and the shimmering World Trade Centre.
In 2003 I did the same thing. I flew from Toronto to New York. But this time those shimmering Trade Towers were gone. When I saw that my heart sank. The enormity of it hit me again. How I wish we could go back to the way it used to be.