It was just after midday here in South Africa when I got a call from my boss, telling me to put on the little fuzzy Black and White TV in his office. “A plane has just flown into one of the twin towers in New York.” I thought I’d heard wrong, but curiosity got the better of me. There, right before my eyes, on the snowy, staticky TV were images of a plane crashing into a tall building. I was still considering that the hype was possibly unnecessary when I saw the second plane. I was stunned. I continued to listen to the TV, and for good measure switched the radio on too. I even phoned Mom, telling her to check the satellite channels on and let me know what else was being said.
A while after the telephone rang and it was Mom telling me that I plane had flown into the Pentagon. Now, my US geography is really not good, but I did know that the Pentagon is in Washington DC, and that was where one of my best friends from school, Nerina, was au-pairing. I also knew that Nerina travelled quite a bit with her host family. Soon my mind was racing – was she safe? What if she’d been on one of those planes? I emailed, tried to phone, but with no success. I suspected the worst, not for one minute thinking that as a result of this terrible situation, telephone lines would be jammed.
About a week later I heard from her – she was safe. She’d actually been outside playing with the kids when she’d heard the plane fly over. I got chills.
Eleven years has passed, but let us never forget. The Americans that died that day were regular people, just like you and me. They had regular jobs, they had families, pets, mortgages. Let us instead honour their memory by being silent for a moment. America, I salute you! Your resolve is inspiring! Your bravery and remembrance give me hope.