As I just heard in the radio, almost everybody can remember where they were on 9/11/2001. Details, small stories, memories that contribute to the collective remembrance of that day. A day that has been described as the day that marked a change in history, a day after which the world was no longer the same.
I was in Berlin. Attending the preparation training with the German Development Service as I was due to leave for Cambodia at the end of September with my family to start to work in a rural development project. Days in Berlin at the training centre, located at the outskirt of the two in Kladow were a bit dull, morning session on various development topics and afternoon more or less free. That day I stayed in and red something in the room. I went a couple of times in the main building and walked the long corridor passing by the entrance of the library. I remember noticing that the library was open and people were inside though it was past the closing time. I did not go in thinking that there was a training going on. After some time I went to the PC lab to read emails. A find was also sitting there . As I sat and started to type in my passwords, he turned to me and said: did you hear that a plane flew into the WTO in New York?. I though imnmediately of accident and browsed to the homepage of a Italian newspaper. There was the picture of the burning tower and the still small news that a plane had crashed into it. It was still not clear what had really happened. I realised then that the people in the library had gathered there to watch at the big TV there.
I walked back to the main building and entered the room. I remember how people were silent. All concentrate don the chilling images coming from New York. Some holding his hand on their mouth, all eyes to those images that seemed still a movie. The silence, everybody with his or her thoughts, shaking head in disbelieve. The second plane had already crashed. Smoke was coming from the towers. Similar to some volcanic eruption, that all of a sudden breaks out from the earth surface.
I do not know how long we stand there. At some point somebody left. It was just too much. news were coming in of people jumping from the towers. Than a plane had crashed in the Pentagon.
I left and went out, and though about my wife who was in Finland, my mother, my brother. Family. I wanted to hear their voices and phone them.
With few other colleagues taking part in the training we had organised for that evening a dinners at a Vietnamese restaurant in town. We gathered outside the library door to decide what to do. Go? Stay? Cancel? Opinion were divided. In the end we decided to go. I guess we did it because in a way life must go on, but more importantly, at least for me, was that I had the need to stay with people and talk with them about what we had see, and what had happened. Probably for my fiends was the same. So we reached the Vietnamese restaurant in a unreal atmosphere and mood. We ordered our food and talked New York, but also about our departure to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and our expectation about the two years we were supposed to work there. Life and plans were back. Life was there.
Back to my room I switched to BBC World Service and listened for hours the news. There I was alone with this terrible reality. Then came the next day. Training started, we decided to move on. Later I went back to Finland. We left for Cambodia. And here I am five years later, back in Finland, remembering that day.
What has changed? has everything changed? It may sound rethoric, but there is a lot of heatred in the world as the gap is widening between the haves and the haves nothing. This needs to change because we are all one, on this one planet.