September 11, 2001.
Was in a BBC studio, talking about the new university year.
Got a text message from a friend, who knew it was a rum do, but whose text seemed to suggest an accident. Simultaneously, a researcher from the newsroom interrupted the interview.
In the newsroom to see the footage of the second plane, as it streamed in. Such a surreal place to be for a major event. Silent people.
Producer explained that the story I’d been recording about student debt and the new year would probably not go out. I readily agreed. Flushed with anxiety, I left the studio to enter a world where people didn’t know yet.
Taxi to University, where I told my head lecturer who didn’t believe me. Tuned in TV to watch the second tower fall.
Met my friend Noel and went to his to watch the news till late. Was a sunny day like today.
Today is an important day to remember the attacks, the death toll and the evil, twisted ideology which can justify terror against innocent, uninvolved people.
I use it as a day to remember the pressing need to resist terrorism of many kinds. Remembering La Mon House, Enniskillen, Dublin and Monaghan bombings, Omagh, Bali, 7/7 and countless others reminds us of a certain human duty to be better than the terrorists, to be tolerant and embracing of difference, to oppose suffering and to be willing to stand up and depose terrorism.
And, if we’re to win, we have to remember our own shortcomings as well. Amritsar, Bloody Sunday and Camp XRay show that anger and indiscipline are also our enemies. We have a duty to be better than the terrorists, to politically engage with the disaffected, and if that fails, to discharge our responsibility to protect people from terrorism with thoughtful, effective strategy, not a response in kind.
So let’s not just remember, today. Let’s also reflect on how sometimes our methods to counter terrorism can be as dreadful as the terrorism itself, and let’s resolve to be better, to set ourselves a higher standard.
Let’s try to be worthy of the innocent victims of 9/11.