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September Issue

Nick Millman on September 11th in Washington DC

Words are not enough to express my deep condolescense for all those effected by the tragedy, especially those in America who were lost and those who lost friends and loved ones. An evil act that attacked innocent ones, without provocation, without remorse, without feelings, just simply, evil evil people who must be extinguished from the face of the earth. We cant turn back the clock but we can help shape our future in order to help prevent more children to be without parents. I would like to wish all those involved the best of luck in ending the evil regime of terrorism.

On the day before September 11th, I had just returned from working in a toy store in Ocean City, Maryland as part of BUNAC's work America programme, to Washington DC. It seems on my part, the story of my summer seems irrelevant to me or anyone now, but all be it, it was a good experience, an experience I thoroughly enjoyed. On the day it happened, I remember driving on the outskirts of Washington DC aiming to get to Boston to visit a friend. Then the radio was announcing the so called 'first' accident in the world trade centre.

“Was it a terrorist, or was it an accident”, I was repeating to myself. I hoped it was an accident rather then an act of mankind, because even at the least it is more acceptable, the SAS accident at Milan Linate airport was more acceptable, even if it was also a tragic event, and I’m sure corrective measures there are being undertaken within Milan’s air-traffic control system.

Moreover, the images of the American public at service stations and in Jersey with their radios on, all crowding round one another, chatting about the news, were extraordinary. It reminded me of a documentary I had watched about the American public reaction to world war two. When I spoke with some of them after stopping numerous times on my way north, the reaction was disbelief and shock. In one bar, a man stormed out after heated debate about possible US entry into a war, shouting explicitives and curses. Another woman I spoke to on the phone of a hostel, could not believe it and apologised to me that it happened because I was a visitor in America, I quickly replied that I would still remain a future visitor here.

Now that the shock is settling a little, what should be done. Is the military campaign morally acceptable? Will Bin Laden be caught? Will there be more attacks? And what about other threats such as Hezbollah and Saddam Hussein who are both potentially worse then Al-Queda. Personally, I think the USA pulling out of the Middle East and Israel is not an option. Besides these evil people use Israel's problems as an excuse, just to inflict an attack on a country they probably secretly admire and are jealous of.

All through history, the greatest nations are always the hated ones, Roman Empire, the Greeks, the Spanish, the British and now the Americans. These terrorists do not know distinguish between right and wrong, they will not negotiate, nor compromise, nor reverse their beliefs, these people will not stop. Something must be done, it will be done, I am confident of this, the Western military machine is too powerful and must prevail.

On my way to Massachusetts, I couldn’t help but feel anger, I desperately awaited the death toll figure to go down. “Duplicates”, I said, I wanted many duplicates in the list that had been drawn up by the authorities. The death toll was too much, the equivalent of all those on an aircraft carrier, or at a small Division 1 soccer match. It is hard to comprehend, so many souls!! The world-wide effect on top of this is phenomenal, sacked pilots and airline workers, businesses going bankrupt, civilians dying in Afghanistan, riots in over 30 countries, increased world-wide racism against Moslems, especially in the West. The list is endless.

After attending a service in Providence, Rhode Island a few days later, I can honestly say, from a foreign perspective, that Americans have a nation to be proud of, and that the coming together of peoples from all over the country is a positive outcome of the tragedy, perhaps to be cherishedby future Americans.

Finally, I returned to the London soon after, flushed out and tense, wondering what the sense of feeling was there. Similarly, having travelled to various hostels in Austria and Switzerland since, I can say that many people still feel anger, mostly referring to the tragedy as something out of the film, Independence Day. In Innsbruck, the Australian guys I met there were glad that America sent their airforce, “It is about time”, and “Now we can act” were some of the remarks made by them. In Vienna, I argued with a French guy about whether Bin Laden was quilty. I simply put it to him that I didn’t care whether he was or not, because even before, there was overriding evidence in the USS Cole and Embassy attacks. He repeatedly slammed the table, sternly saying, “where is the evidence”, “where is the evidence” and that America is not acting in a democratic judicial manner.

Still, wherever you go, the event always crops up in some conversation somewhere, and so it should, because this impacts not on just America but the whole world. If it can happen in New York, it can happen in London or Paris, Tokyo or Beijing, Prague or Berlin, even Anchorage or Bangkok. This was an attack on America. All countries should rise up to defeat this scourge, so that all countries in the world will be a dangerous haven and not a “safe haven” to these terrorists, and so that the evil minority cannot ruin the lives of the vast majority.

© Nick Millman: October: 2001
Nick Millman

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