This week you could not avoid the extensive television coverage that has been given to the weekend’s anniversary of the devastating September 11 2001 attack on New York’s Twin Towers.
Documentaries covering all aspects of this atrocity have been aired across all networks all week.
A particularly poignant programme about the effect the attack had on the Irish-American community was broadcast on Tuesday night and depicted in a very real way how the Irish adopted America as their home from home and in turn contributed in a huge way to the social and economic development of the country.
Following the 9/11 attacks one Irish-American journalist said he never saw a city so united and probably never would see the same again. Niall O’Dowd said the feeling of American pride, even among the Irish-American community, was phenomenal, and this came across strongly in the documentary, and was something the Irish at home probably could not relate to, especially in relation to the subsequent war on terrorism. There was definitely a separation of feeling between the Irish at home and the Irish in America in terms of events in the Middle East. That is not to say we did not stand shoulder to shoulder with our American cousins following 9/11 2001.
After all this was an attack on the country that had provided the Irish diaspora with a home, a life, an occupation, something they were unable to find in Ireland. And then 9/11 attacked the foundation of the United States of America — its freedom.
The Irish were the largest ethnic minority in and around the World Trade Centre on September 11. They have openly grieved the loss of their family and friends since, many of whom worked in the Twin Towers or presented to help in the rescue operation. Each anniversary since there have been memorials and public remembrance services and no doubt they have helped with the grieving process. Without doubt they have helped the public understand and feel the depth of grief, loss, and anger that ripped through New Yorkers. But now 10 years have passed and the survivors and those left behind should be left to their grief and personal coping mechanisms. One Irish widow said she would not be attending public ceremonies on Sunday as she needed to remember her husband in her own private way this year in the company of her daughters. And to be fair, the survivors and relatives of those lost on 9/11 are not performing monkeys to be rolled out every year for the public. Their time to remember in private has certainly come.
9/11 was the day that changed the world.
Where were you on 9/11? That is the big question that has been doing the rounds this week. Most Irish people were tucking into lunch on that fateful day and saw the second plane hit. It is an image that never fails to shock. Since then we have seen the execution of Saddam Hussein who was hanged on December 30 2006, and Osama Bin Laden, the man directly responsible for the 9/11 attacks, who was killed by a United States special forces military unit on May 2 of this year. Terrorism will not and cannot be the winner. But at what cost to civilian life?
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