I, like millions of other people, watched the horror unfold on that fateful day on September 11 2001. It was late afternoon here in South Africa when I received a call from my sister telling me to turn on CNN, "a small plane crashed into the World Trade Centre" she said anxiously. When I did, I saw one of the Twin Towers burning with a gaping hole to its side. Still trying to digest what I was seeing, a second plane struck the second tower. As fire and smoke bellowed out of it from the tremendous impact from the second strike, I realized the world as we knew just changed.
The rest of the day I spent glued to my television set, watching people leaning out windows trying to escape from what must have felt like hell. I watched people jump and falling to their deaths. I remember the horror and disbelieve when both the towers came tumbling down. People running for their lives and those who escaped covered in a grey ominous ash and dust. I remember hearing the high pitch sounds of car alarms and sirens as pieces of singed paper and debris came floating down from the sky like snow. I remember hearing that another plane crashed into the Pentagon and another went down in a field. I watched a country under attack. I watched a country in shock. I remember wondering how many people had died.
Today, ten years later, much have changed. Where the towers once stood now is a memorial park, the damage to the Pentagon is repaired and the lives of those affected by this tragedy have been rebuild. But the memory lingers, like a bad dream. The "War on Terror" have since became an unfortunate familiar term and Osama Bin Laden is finally dead. As we remember the events of that fateful day, I also urge you to remember the fallen heroes, not only those who sacrificed their live on that day but also those who gave their lives in the years that followed.