Archive for 9/11

Where were you on 9/11?

Posted in Biographical, Politics with tags , , on September 11, 2011 by telescoper

I’m up unusually early, especially for a Sunday, because I have to finish a mountain of work for the impending meetings of the Astronomy Grants Panel. For the same reason I’ll keep this brief.

At the risk of contributing to the deluge of (mainly mawkish) reminiscences about the happenings on this day a decade ago, let me just give a brief account of my recollection. The events of 9/11 are, I suspect, etched on many a memory in much the same way as people remember what they were doing when President Kennedy was assassinated.

For what it’s worth, I was actually at a conference on that day. It was called A New Era in Cosmology, and was hosted in the fine city of Durham; in fact one of the organisers was a certain Tom Shanks, an occasional commenter on this blog. What I remember is sitting listening to one of the talks – I can’t remember who it was by, and might even have been asleep – when a dear friend of mine, Manuela, came running down the aisle, stopped by me, tugged my arm, mumbled something about the “Twin Towers” and then ran back up the stairs and out of the lecture theatre. Thinking it was something to do with Wembley Stadium, I followed her out and she explained what had happened. We found a TV set, around which a crowd had already formed. I remember watching it all over and over again, even late at night when I got back to my hotel, not knowing how to respond to something of such enormity.

The loss of human life turned out to be much less than expected and was subsequently dwarfed by the tens of thousands killed in Iraq  as the British and US governments used the events of that day as a pretext to carry out the invasion of a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. Thus the cycle of hatred spins ever more viciously. When will the next atrocity strike, and on which side?

Anyway, my point is not the politics but to invite a bit of audience participation. While I’m busy slaving over hot grant applications, would anyone like to contribute their memories from that fateful day? If so, the comment box awaits your entry…

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