On this morning, 15 years ago, the world witnessed with horror an event which would change the entire world, foreign policy, international relations for the first decade of the century. Perhaps the most important event of the 21st century occurred in only the second year of it.
Before I wrote this article, I decided to watch some of the footage from that devastating September morning, and even now I find it surreal. The famous video of the second plane hitting the tower, live on many news channels, will be seared into not just American, but the memories of many of us for the rest of our lives.
As the morning lead on, the situation deepened. After the second plane had hit, harrowing images poured in of people throwing themselves from the upper floors of the towers. Loved ones started to receive phone calls that were almost certainly last goodbyes.
It gradually became clear that this was no accident, that these were planned terror attacks. As the buildings fell, America lost more than just buildings and citizens.
It lost the incredibly brave men and women, the emergency services who marauded into the building to get as many people out as possible. For their selflessness, for their bravery, they were lost. They will never be forgotten.
America also lost its innocence. From that moment on, the way the Middle East, Muslims, and general foreigners were seen completely changed. In the immediate aftermath, America declared a war on terror that still rages today.
Still, Americans do not feel avenged. Even after the eventual capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden, the man expected to have coordinated the attacks, America’s wound has not yet healed.
From that day on, the world was never the same place again. The entire global community took a different attitude towards airport security, the prevention of terrorism and towards radical islam.
In the aftermath of 9/11, the terrorists declared victory. In reality, the immediate moments after the attacks proved to be the country’s finest hours.
In a moving speech, announcing the death of Bin Laden, Obama said that the worst images were those unseen by the world. “The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without a mother or a father.” The consequences of that day go far beyond what most of us can imagine.
America’s families responded with love to those who had lost, love for one another and bravery and resilience against the cowardice of terrorism.
The freedom towers that now stand in the site of the former World Trade Centre, show a sign to the world, a sign to evil and a signal of the American spirit. Terrorism, hate, injustice and destruction, will never be surrendered to by the West.
Throughout history, tyrannical figures have tried to stamp upon the brightest and most forward thinking nations. Hitler was defeated by the British after many attacks on UK soil, the Americans flew the flag in the face of terror, the West will not give in.
In a time when we face so much insecurity, when attacks are growing in frequency across Europe, we must remember the events of this day 15 years ago.
We must take with heart, inspiration and spirit, when we feel fearful. We must grieve for the tragic injustice that was done that day, for the blood of innocents spilled is beyond retrieve. 9/11 was the very worst of human nature, yet the world responded with the best of it.
We will never surrender, we will not give in. Evil will not triumph over good, terror over peace, hope over fear.
We hope that all of those souls who perished at the hands of cowards are now at peace, wherever they may be. We will never forget them, we will never forget the events of September 11th, 2001, and we will never be defeated by terror.