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Scarlett Nation » Terrorism, United States » A Decade On

A Decade On

guest post by Myles Nester

I felt sick for weeks after 9/11. A creeping sickness, as if something was rotting inside me. It may have been fear or revulsion, maybe a confused bodily reaction to the sudden and brutal restructuring of the world. I can still recall the uneasiness which permeated from my mind into my physical state. A decade later, I am not sure if the sickness ever left me.

That day is etched into my mind, I carry the snapshot memories in me and can recall them at a moment’s notice. Being told by a friend as I stood at the school gates, being part of the crowd in Dixons watching something unknown and terrible unfold, the endlessly replayed footage, the monotony of horror and the relief that came from finally turning off the television. The ceaseless rolling coverage of pain and suffering beamed directly into our homes magnified and intensified the event out of all knowable proportions. With every passing minute, every new second of footage, and every stilted, shocked recap America was humiliated. Humiliated at 24 frames per second. Humiliated but not humbled, not broken and not beaten. One thought was immediately obvious even as I stood with strangers and staff in that becalmed Dixons; that someone would have to pay. America would need vengeance and someone would have to be found, blamed, bombed and defeated. What I did not predict was the brutal, reductionist manner by which America would attempt to get its catharsis, and what I could never have foreseen is that a decade later it would still be seeking closure, bestriding the world searching for the one speck of solace that will make everything as it were.

Amongst the shattered concrete and gypsum that lay where the twin towers had stood, America and, by proxy, the world lost something it would not recognise the value of until it had disappeared. America’s identity; torn asunder by a few terrorists and their own airplanes. In its place was an aesthetic of terrorism that was to infiltrate, then dominate America’s culture emperors, Hollywood. Disaster didn’t look like it was meant to, it was filthy and messy, paper floated down from on high, the haunting, ceaseless beeping of emergency distress signals echoed through otherwise silent streets and the dust, the terrible, choking, all consuming dust filled the air. It rushed in clouds down New York’s streets, propelled by the collapsing Towers and plunging what was once vibrant and busy, into a monotonous, grey pall. Firemen emerged as new heroes of a new age. Men used to running into burning buildings had their unwanted Everest, not just a burning building now but a burning symbol, an edifice of America’s creation and someone else’s destruction. Whilst their president hid underground, their fireman marched into the heart of the disaster doing whatever they could, rescuing whoever they could in the forlorn hope that it would somehow be enough to undo what had been done to their city, their country.

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