9/11 as seen from the Netherlands

It’s  9/11. I was thinking today that years ago I would never have called this date 9/11. Here in the Netherlands we say 11/9. It took me some time to remember that 9/11 was not the 9th of November …

This day was just like any other day …
I had to teach all day, we had a meeting after school and when all that was finished some colleagues stayed to talk and finish some work. It was around 4.30 pm …

I walked through the hallway when the phone rang. As I was closest I picked it up. It was our principal’s wife … she was crying.
“There is a war … World war Three has started!” she cried … I didn’t even understand what she meant …
She explained that an airplane had crashed in one tower of the World Trade Center and told us to turn on the TV … so I ran back to our auditorium, where my colleagues were and tried to tell them what I heard. They didn’t believe me, so we ran to the nearest TV and turned it on …

It was true … we saw the tower burning …

We looked in shock and I remember one of the men quietly saying, “We should go home … you never know what will happen next.” At that moment our news reader announced that our government had installed code red … high danger!
We hugged and said goodbye to each other and went home.

When I arrived I first called my mother. Strange … it doesn’t matter how old you get … in times of danger you call your mother …
Mom was in shock too. I could hear it in her voice. She told me to turn on the TV. “A second plane has crashed in the other tower …”
We watched in stunned silence.

After a few minutes we said goodbye …she wanted to call my brother.

I remember I watched TV all night … I only went to bed for a few hours … the news readers kept telling everyone to stay at home and be careful … our government believed we were a target too. Late at night a few tunnels under our major waterways were shut down … all traffic stopped .. it was considered too dangerous.
A friend of mine, a police officer, was on high alert for days … posting at apparently high risk roads and buildings.

Even in our little country we felt the danger and fear for months … and to be honest …  nothing has been the same ever since.
This day changed the world forever …

After 9/11 this date would be more than just  the day after my uncle’s birthday and two days after my best friends birthday.
After 9/11 Muslims in our country were all of a sudden looked upon with suspicion.
After 9/11 every little problem at Schiphol Airport became national news.
After 9/11 low flying airplanes and high-rise buildings were a reason to be afraid.
After 9/11 we were suddenly involved in wars, far from home, draining our military reserves because,  small country or not, we took our responsibilities seriously.
After 9/11 traveling abroad wasn’t that easy anymore.
After 9/11 terrorism became a household word behind our safe dikes. Little ol’ us were in as much danger as anyone else, believe it or not.

Sometimes I would wish we could turn the clock back to before 9/11. Not just for the families who lost loved ones, but for the world also. It has not become a better place, or a nicer place since then. On the contrary …
And I know, many will put the blame on the terrorists … their ideology … their religion …
But I don’t think it has that much to do with religion.  It’s more about money, power,  greed … and hatred. You only have to look at history to see why there is much reason for animosity.

And as most Islamic countries are either dead poor, or only their leaders are filthy rich, and education is not wide-spread most of the time,  it’s not that hard to find disgruntled people ready to fight when you pour a dose of semi-religious martyrdom over it.

That’s why I think 9/11 is not an one-time affair. It can happen again and I believe it will happen again.
The war on terrorism has done nothing to stop it. It tried to bring democracy to a region that is not familiar with democracy … and it’s failing.
I have a deep respect for the soldiers (Dutch and American and from wherever they came) for what they have accomplished. But it did not stop terrorism.

Today is 9/11. I hope people will not just remember … I hope they will think about what to do to prevent it from happening again.
That answer has yet to be found.

(reposted from Multiply)

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Categories: Me, Netherlands | Tags: | Leave a comment

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