I recently read a short memoir by author Kirsty Grant about the September 11 attack on the Twin Towers. It was titled ‘Collapse’. She posted the memoir on her blog http://firstname.lastname@example.org and Kirsty invited readers to reply with their own memories of that terrible day. This was my recollection.
“Kirsty, I too watched the Twin Towers tragedy unfold on television. We stood in the reception of the serviced offices that we operated from. We were a group of designers that specialised in office design and planning, familiar with the anatomy of commercial buildings we watched the second plane slice into the South Tower with the same understanding that a doctor would have of a projectile smashing through the anatomy of the human body. The event had an unreal sensation about it, a block buster film quality. Like historical events such as Hiroshima or the holocaust, in terms of Man’s inhumanity to Man, it was off the mental Richter scale, difficult, almost impossible to grasp.
It was later in my car heading home in a traffic queue, that the personal, human dimension, was brought to me by wireless. On the Radio Four news the CEO of one of the companies that tenanted the Twin Towers was interviewed. He was in London, Hong Kong or an international business place somewhere. He had lost more than 700 employees. At first he was rational, then as the interview progressed he started crying. Talking and crying. About how the company must continue, must provide for the widows and the orphans of his dead workers. It was utterly, utterly heartbreaking.
Listening, I started to weep too. Taken aback at this unexpected loss of control, embarrassed, I looked sideways at the driver alongside me. She was in tears, dabbing her eyes with a tissue. The man behind had his head in his hands, the shoulders of the driver in front were shaking. I don’t think he was laughing. That day isolated in our cars, we were all in a state of shared collective grief.“
Later, at home with my family, I watched, in numb horror; the jumpers, some making the long descent alone, others with companions, holding hands. Then the final collapse.
Kirsty Grant’s story stirred this ineffably sad memory.