THERE ARE certain events in our pasts that we can all remember where we were, how we heard. Kennedy, Diana, and 9/11 must, I think, be in there, with a few others.
On a Tuesday morning 11 years ago, I, like most people was at work , a normal day until someone asked if I had heard and seen what was on the television. When I did I could not believe what was happening, it was almost too unbelievable to be real.
September the 11th will always be associated with the suicidal terrorist hijacking of four passenger jets that brought terror and uncertainty across the world. We all watched in disbelief at the footage of the first plane, United Airlines flight 11, hitting the North Tower of the World Trade Centre at 8.46am.
An ordinary Tuesday morning for most of us, we all watched in horror as events unfolded when, 27 minutes later a second passenger jet, United Airlines 175 hit the South Tower. The Pentagon in Arlington Virginia was next as, thirty minutes after the second jet hit the Towers, United Airlines flight 77 was used as a missile for terrorism.
A fourth plane believed to be on its way to the White House or the Capitol building was crashed, deliberately by the hijackers, near Shanksville as the brave passengers on board tried to take control hearing the news on mobile phones of what had happened to the three other planes.
In their last few minutes on earth telephone calls to loved ones were made from passengers on all four planes as they realised what was going to happen. After the first plane hit, news flashes went around the world with footage of the first plane hitting the Tower. The passengers on the remaining three planes having watched footage of the first plane crash on the news channels knew they were flying to a certain death.
The North Tower collapsed first, killing 1,355 people, many of whom had tried to use the three staircases that were unpassable due to the heat from the aviation fuel. Above the impact floor many tried to get to the roof top believing that they could be rescued by helicopters but the doors were locked. Over 200 people fell or jumped to their deaths, killing many on the ground who believed they had escaped the tower.
The South Tower began evacuation before it was hit but 630 people died including many Firefighters who had been given the order to evacuate by radio, but due to a malfunctioning radio communications system did not hear the order and continued up the Tower to save lives. More than ninety per cent of the deaths in the Towers were above or on the points of contact.
The FAA grounded all aircraft within the United States in a vain attempt to identify any more hijacked planes and vice president Dick Cheney gave the order to shoot down any commercial aircraft that was still in the skies that could be positively identified as being hijacked. All too late as nearly 3,000 people had already lost their lives and 6,000 people were injured.
Brave pilots in fighter planes took to the skies with no ammunition, knowing that to save lives on the ground they would have to crash their planes into any other hijacked aircraft. Large passenger jets had been deliberately chosen by the hijackers as they would be loaded with fuel.
We watched on television the absolute chaos caused with the largest super power in the world struggling to contain further attacks. President Bush, thought to be another target was flown to a secure location in Airforce 1. Out of the devastation emerged a hero, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who led with his team on the ground, co-ordinated rescues, getting people to safety and spoke to New Yorkers giving reassurance that they would rebuild and that the world would help.
The supposed justification for this slaughter of innocent men, woman and children was made by Bin Laden in 2002, in his "Letter to America" citing United States support for Israel as the motivation behind the attacks.
Over ninety countries lost citizens in this massacre and 3,000 children lost a parent. Only 1,600 people could be positively identified with 10,000 unidentified tissue and bone fragments collected. In 2010 anthropologists and archaeologists found a further 1,845 and DNA identification continues to this day.
Much as the footage of that day will stay with us all, the aftermath was no less awful ;
Some 430,000 jobs were lost in New York, while hate crimes against Muslims increased dramatically with attacks on Mosques and Temples even though many Muslims had been victims too.
Toxic dust is thought to have caused a further 18,000 serious illnesses and deaths.
The New York stock exchange which closed on the day of the tragedy, opened again on the 17th of September with the Dow Jones having fallen to 684 points, a record one day decline, and on the first week of business it closed with its largest drop in history of 1,369.
Some firefighters who had been hailed as hero's tarnished their image as many left their wives and children for widows they were assigned to look after following the tradegy.
People who were to frightened to fly traveled by car, contributing to an additional 1,595 deaths recorded on Americas highways in the first year after 9/11. Airports across the world were put on high alert, making flighing for the ordinary traveler a nightmare.
The USA set up Homeland Security costing 5 trillion dollars in an attempt to prevent anything like September the 11th ever happening again.
I have visited the memorial museum at Ground Zero and the images will stay with me forever. Pictures of loved ones adorn the walls and messages written in the last few minutes of life that have remarkably survived are haunting. Across the world September the 11th will always be synonomous with that one day terrorism succeeded - now it's up to us all to make sure we do what we can to make sure it never has that chance again.