Photo: U.S. Flag at ‘Utah Beach’, Normandy.

We were living in East Belfast at the time and I was driving to see an elderly man in a nursing home when I heard the news on the radio.  I was listening to 5live and it was Simon Mayo (I think) who broke the news, (which at that stage was still quite vague), about a plane flying into one of the towers at the World Trade Center in New York.

The man I had gone to see was a World War Two veteran, he had been one of the U.S. infantrymen who had landed in Normandy on D-Day, 6 June 1944.  He had a photo of himself in uniform from those days above his bed.  He had just heard the news himself, and we discussed the implications, it was the beginning of a new era, we agreed that the world would never be the same again.

I didn’t do any more visits, I just wanted to get home.  I arrived to find Sonja sitting in front of the television horrified at the pictures being shown; she had been watching live footage when the second plane had struck.  I think we hardly moved away from the T.V. for the rest of the day.

It would be easy to be cynical about and condemning of America’s response to these attacks over the years that have followed.  Our freedom of speech and comfortable lives allow us to do this from a lofty place of priviledge and without any fear.  I may join in the chorus of critiscism one day, but not today.

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