Knowing the time difference, it would have been September 12 for me already when I found out. At the time I was cold, I admit. The tragedy was far away, people die halfway around the world from you all the time, and I was busy absorbing the political implications.
They had the TV on in our music classroom, CNN I think it was, with the class sort of crowded around it, and I caught the view of the tower with its cloud of smoke over many people's shoulders before retreating from the crowd as is typical for me in times of stress. Weeks later, I heard a newsreader say "You've seen all those pictures, too many times ... " I hadn't. Just that one glimpse. We don't have a TV at home.
My history teacher from the year before was a wry, sharp-witted man, full of stories and opinions and off-hand comments. We had studied the origins of World War II. "The Japanese made a big mistake, bombing Pearl Harbour," he had said. "It was all very well expanding into the Pacific, but Pearl Harbour was American territory. And the Americans, well, if you hit them, they hit back. You mark my words, they'll take an eye for an eye, and then some."
Pearl Harbour is way out in the middle of the Pacific. The World Trade Center is in the middle of New York. Compare psychological magnitude. I had a sudden vision of the Americans thumping around desperately in their desire for revenge, trying to figure out who to hit. It would take a president with leadership skills of incredible magnitude to reign in that impulse, I thought. Then I remembered the president of the United States was George W. Bush. "This is an act of war," he declared. "Figures," I thought, and held my breath. For a while I thought they might be able to take it all out on Afghanistan.
And then a few months ago I saw this clip here and realised how cold, how cold I was. And I wished I'd seen and felt the grief of New Yorkers at the time. But better late than never.