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10 Years On: My Experience of September 11 2001

CNN Screen Grab of Breaking News on September 11It's a bit hard to believe that it's been 10 years since the world-changing event that was September 11 2001. I thought it might be suitable to blog the interesting moments of how I spent that day, which in Australia largely unfolded on Wednesday the 12th of September.

As an 18 year old in my first year of uni at UQ, I had gone to bed pretty early on the Tuesday night, as I had an early 8am morning lecture the next day. I woke up early on Wednesday the 12th of September, went downstairs to have breakfast, and I remember that Dad had the TV on which was showing the towers collapsing. I remember thinking "Man, that's some really cool special effects"; I honestly thought it was a trailer for some new disaster movie.

Pretty quickly, after continuous replays of the second plane crashing into the tower, it was obvious that it was no special effects. It was also a bit frightening to realise that my family was there on top of the south tower almost 2 years to the day previously: we had a family holiday to the USA in mid-September 1999, and went to the observatory on top of that tower.

I caught the CityCat into uni, and in hindsight I can't believe how ironically relevant two of the courses I had lectures for that day. The early 8am lecture was for the course HIST1601 (Turning Points in World History). I can't really remember what the specific lecture was supposed to be about, but what I do remember was that it was a guest lecture by an American woman from the east-coast, and shortly after starting the lecture she couldn't hold it together and just broke down in tears and couldn't continue.

After leaving the cancelled lecture, although it was still early (like before 9am), the libraries had setup special TVs to show the news broadcasts. As the day went on there were literally hundreds of people crowding around the TVs in the libraries and the refecs, and you could tell the people who had probably not seen any news before that day and were watching the video of the events for the first time. The look on those peoples' faces seeing the realisation of what they were seeing was a story in itself.

In the afternoon, the last lecture of the day was again for another shockingly relevant course: HIST1000 (Emergence of Modern America). I remember the course coordinator and lecturer was Dr. Joe Siracusa (an American from Chicago), he was such an amusing and (somewhat inappropriately) entertaining lecturer, and you actually learnt something along the way too. I remember him saying that day that they'd make the WTC a memorial and wouldn't rebuild on the site. I guess he was somewhat right in that the two towers are now a memorial (although they are building Freedom Tower right next to it).

From a purely academic perspective you can see how much that event changed the world (In uni for the Arts degree my majors were Peace & Conflict Studies (mainly political science courses) and History). Academically in 2001 and 2002 the current era of the time was mainly referred to as the "post-Cold War" world, from 2003 onwards it was referred to as the "post-September 11" world.

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