Not too long ago, while watching the opening scenes of the film Armageddon I idly wondered what it would actually be like if New York City was hit by fast moving flying debris that brought down skyscrapers. Now we know and I wish we didn’t.
I find it impossible to even begin to comprehend the kind of hatred that could motivate an act of this kind. An attack on the Pentagon is at least justifiable from a military perspective, but to crash civilian aircraft, packed full of innocent passengers into not just the heart of the US military but the largest commercial office block in New York City is an act so nightmarishly evil that I can hardly believe it’s true.
Like many other Australians I woke up to the news on my clock radio. I’ve been wandering around in a daze all day, waiting to wake up and find it’s all a dream. I went into work an hour and a half early just for something to do apart from watching it all on TV, or not watching it, and thinking about it instead.
Many people (including our own Prime Minister who is currently stranded in the States after the closing of all US airspace) have been quoting President Roosevelt over the last twenty four hours, and though I agree that this is indeed a day that will live in infamy, the words that are running through my head are those of Herb Morrison – a radio journalist who, four years before Eisenhower’s famous speech and not all that far from the site where the World Trade Center would one day rise, was sent to cover the landing of a German airship called the Hindenburg.
“It burst into flame and it’s falling, it’s fire, watch it, watch it, get out of the way,get out of the way… oh my god what do I see? it’s burning-bursting into flame, and it’s falling… all of the folks agree that this is terrible, this is one of the worst catastrophes in the world, ohh the flames are rising, oh, four or five hundred feet into the sky. It’s a terrific crash ladies and gentlemen, the smoke and it’s flames now and the frame is crashing to the ground… all the humanity… Screaming around me, I’m so — I can’t even talk, the people, it’s not fair, it’s — it’s — oh! I can’t talk, ladies and gentleman, honest, it’s a flaming mass of smoking wreckage, and everybody can hardly breathe… I’m sorry, honestly, I can hardly breathe, I’m going to step inside where I cannot see it… I, I can’t… listen folks I’m going to have to stop for a minute, just because I’ve lost my voice, this is the worst thing I’ve ever witnessed…”