It was September 12, 2001, Wednesday, here in the Philippines.
I was 12 years old then, a freshman in high school at St. Francis de Sales Minor Seminary, Lipa City. It was 5:45 in the morning and we were on our way to the chapel for our daily morning prayers when we saw a copy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer on the doorsteps of our Priests’ common room. And on the front page, it read:
Terrorists hit U.S.
And on the front page, the picture of the World Trade Center being engulfed by flame and smoke. I remember one of my older brother then saying “Mali ang bansang kinalaban nila” (They fought the wrong country). We did not read the whole story for we have to attend to our usual schedule which is morning prayers/ lauds and meditation. And on the Holy Mass after our meditation, the officiating Priest, in his homily, relayed to us the sad story that shocked the whole world.
We do not have access on television in the minor seminary during weekdays so our teachers spent at least 15 minutes of our lecture time to tell us how 2 planes crashed at the World Trade Center and raze it to its foundation, on how some of the victims at the building jumped to their death in desperation, on how one of the plane crashed at The Pentagon, and on how one of the planes crashed somewhere in Shanksville, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh.
I was only able to watch the video of the ill-fated Twin towers on the replays and features on the television when I got home on the last Friday of September 2001, our usual schedule of our monthly home visit.
I was 12 years old back then. I was a freshman in the High School Seminary. And young as I was back then, I grieved together with the whole world on that tragic day, and prayed for peace and for the bereaved families of the victims.
Today, the whole world commemorates the 10th year anniversary of the tragedy that struck America and the event that changed the world. In lieu of this, I have been watching 9/11-related clips from YouTube during my free time since last week. I have also re-watched, for the umpteenth time, United 93, a movie about the passengers of the fourth hijacked plane bound to Washington DC who fought the hijackers on board.
I have seen news clips from various news agencies and amateur footage of the second plane hitting the world trade center. I have also watched conspiracy flicks saying that World Trade Center is a controlled demolition; that a missile actually hit The Pentagon and not the 3rd plane; that United 93 was shot down by a fighter jet and not the popular account that her passengers were the ones who fought with the hijackers; and that the Unites Stated government was behind the September 11 attack to launch a war against Afghanistan and neighboring countries.
As much as the conspiracy videos are convincing and I am a big fan of stories of conspiracy, I did not dwell much on them nor immediately believe their supposedly hidden truth by the government. I just searched for other clips of stories of heroism (of the firefighters, policemen, ordinary civilians,and rescue workers) and resilience.
Watching GMA News TV one morning, I saw a promo of an upcoming Philippine premiere of the September 11 documentary The Day that Changed the World. It will be shown today, September 11, in commemoration of the tragedy’s 10th anniversary (back to back with another documentary, The Death of Osama Bin Laden).
I searched the web to find more information about the documentary. A blogger/ reviewer promised that if you are lost on choosing among 50 other September 11-related documentaries, then this will be the right and complete documentary for you. It is all bout the events of the day that changed the world, no more, no less.
I learned that it was already shown in the United States and a user has already uploaded it on YouTube. I was too lazy to watch the 6-part video on YouTube so being a torrent junkie that I am, I decided to, er, download it. I am also planning to save this for future consumption of the future generation.
The documentary did not disappoint me. It showed the events and only the events on that fateful day. On how it started just like any other ordinary day in New York; on how two commercial airplanes hit the twin towers of World Trade Center; on how the third plane crashed into the Pentagon; on how the fourth plane crashed into Shanksville, Pennsylvania; on how New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani served as a hope for the Yankees; on how the aviation authority and the Air Force do their job to control the United States air space; on how Vice President Dick Cheney managed the situation in the White House bunker; and on how President George W. Bush was held inside the Air Force One for security reasons.
The documentary also shows accounts by the White House personnel, the media men who were with President Bush during that day, and some of the persons involved on the rescue, search, and retrieval during and after the incident. The only part of the documentary where I had a hard time watching was about the helpless individuals who, in desperation, jumped off to their death from the World Trade Center. They are now more popularly known as jumpers. The sound of the bodies hitting the ground is just so weakening.
All in all, the documentary was true to its title. It just about that tragic day, September 11, 2001, from morning until midnight. No conspiracies. No other agenda. It is just about the tragedy and the heroes who emerge from it. Considering that I had no access on news and television ten years ago when this tragedy happened, some of the parts and details were a surprise to me.
Today, we commemorate the 10th year of the tragic day that changed the course of history. The day that changed the lives of millions of people. And the day that changed the world.
I am now inviting you for a moment of silence to give respect to the people who have died, most especially to our 10 kababayans who also perished that day.
And let us hope that this tragedy will never happen again. Never again.