September 11, 2001. The darkest day of this century…!
Until then, the world loved to believe that America is the safest place on this earth as the security systems existing there are the best of its kind across the globe. It was unconceivable that someone would trespass into this high security zone, breaking the highly advanced security systems and piercing the most sophisticated procedures. As a person who loved to be a Professional Social Worker and later embraced Disaster Management with the realization that it is one of the finest forms of social work, I was keen to delve deep in to the American way of disaster preparedness and contingency management. Undoubtedly the East and South East had started to acknowledge the proven security measures of the West. But it took just one hour and 42 minutes for the entire human race to correct this unimpeded notion and to assimilate the universal fact that there is no place on this earth safe and secure. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 9/11 is the only mass destruction that history cannot erase.
In 2015, after 14 years, when I stood over the Ground Zero with mixed feelings, it was only to reaffirm the superiority and might of humanity at will that can convert a heaven to hell and a grave yards to Eden garden. The tallest of all towers in the Financial Capital of the World brought down in just minutes by the perpetrators on one side, and on the other side the most powerful memorial built up at the same place within years as symbol of harmony and tranquility. Light over darkness. My visit to the Ground Zero was along with my cousin Fr. Roy Chettany, who had been in New York for quite some time.
My career started in the domain of disaster management in the super cyclone affected costal districts of Orissa that killed more than 50,000 people. Living amidst the victims of one of the most furious disasters in India itself used to provoke me to think about the helplessness of the people who lost everything and everyone. A stage where one becomes orphan within minutes and preordain to live without one’s own people around. I used to spend my long evenings on the banks of the Bay of Bengal meditating about the reasons for innocent people being punished through calamities. I may wish to call it accidental, but on one of such evenings I heard the breaking news of terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre. It’s obvious that a super cyclone affected costal village can offer only scuttlebutts. The very next morning I rushed back to the temple city Bhubaneswar to have more information on this human induced disaster though it was impossible for me to stretch my helping hands to the needy in New York.
Fr. Roy Chettany tried to explain details pertaining to each building, story behind every memorial, and the gulf created by the erstwhile iconic structures on the Ground Zero. But standing near the New World Trade Centre, my heart was longing to go through each and every souvenir established to honor the brave hearts and the innocent people who lost their precious lives in the cowardly act by the perverts. The cool breeze that bear the feelings of many a heavy hearts, the architectural marvel that keeps on reminding the lost lives, the tiny silver drops of water flowing in to the twin-well at the Ground Zero, names of the martyrs engraved on the walls…everything had numerous stories to tell. For a while my thoughts went back to my own country having 1.2 billion people. Thousands of people are killed every year in India due to disasters, but the kind of honor and respect given to them has ever been nightmare. Always I feel that the difference of value of human life in the West against India as 001:100
9/11 has been one of the biggest tragedies in the history of America. It was as if to remind and warn the human kind that the evil spirit is much ahead of all virtues though its victory is momentary. A series of coordinated terrorist attacks by the Al-Qaeda on the morning of September 11, 2001 killed 2996 people and injured over 6000 and caused at least $10 billion in property; it was in addition to the 343 firefighters and 72 policemen dedicated their lives for the nation.
Lapses in security in a country believed to be the best secured is not my subject to discuss here. But it needs mention that it was the first time passenger aircrafts were used as weapons for mass destruction; four passenger aircrafts operated by two major US careers viz. United Airlines and American Airlines took off from the airports in the northeastern United States for California were hijacked by 19 Al-Qaeda terrorists. While the American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower, the United Airlines Flight 175 was crashed into the South tower of the World Trade Center. The masterminds of the terror had done extensive researches and minute level planning before executing the operation successfully; meanwhile the people of New York was clueless on what was going on around them.
The catastrophe would have been much more staid and abysmal unless the remaining two aircrafts nosedived in executing their plan. American Airlines Flight 77, the third aircraft was crashed in to the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense (the Pentagon) in Virginia with minimal impact; and the fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, initially was steered toward Washington DC crashed into a field in Stony Creek Township in Pennsylvania. It’s merely the Blessings of God that all the four aircrafts were not successful in executing their mission as per original plan, otherwise the history of the modern world would have been different.
Today, the entire civilized world that stands for unity, peace and love is painfully commemorating the 15th anniversary of those bitter moments with a single prayer that “lead kindly light amid the encircling gloom…..”
After 9/11, there has been numerous terrorist attacks across the Globe, to name some, the Parliament attack in India, the Mumbai terrorist attack, the Paris attack, the Brussels airport attack, the London tube attack and many more. Thousands of innocent people have sacrificed their lives. Billions and trillions of dollars are spent to curb the menace of terrorism form this Planet. More than a hundred global summits and bilateral meetings are held to find solution for this modern evil. But unless the world unites together irrespective of all political and economic priorities and fight to uproot terrorism, it will manifest in one or the other form and the perennial loss will be with the innocents !