Sept. 11 was the 19th anniversary of the bombing of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the plane crash near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. That day I was in my office of the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria. I was listening on my computer to a country station in Texas. At one point the announcer said a plane has crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Maybe 10-15 minutes later, he came on again saying another plane has crashed into the North Tower. I went across the hall to our TV classroom. There it was, films of these 757s hitting the towers. I remember saying to myself, “I didn't realize they hated us this much.”
The rest of that day and the next, people would express condolences. As the IAEA is a United Nations affiliate, these people came from all over the world. All the evening papers in Vienna and the next morning papers worldwide devoted their front pages to the tragedies. Literally the whole world had sympathy for the USA.
The Boothbay Register marked the remembrances in the area with the article, “9/11: Reminders to remember.” I should note that in Austria and the rest of the world, the date is 11/9, i.e. 11 September 2001. There were similar events all over New Mexico on Sept. 11.
The pandemic has prevented us from spending the summer at our Sprucewold cabin. The heroic actions of first responders and citizens certainly deserve the annual events remembering their actions and sacrifices. Over 300 firemen and police were killed that day. Many more have been seriously affected by the cleanup work; some have died from this and others are living much affected lives.
Unfortunately, we decided to exact retribution for 9/11 in the form of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This amounts to several million lives lost in the fighting that ensued and continues in these two countries. It's also led to other millions displaced and hundreds of thousands killed trying to escape the war zones. As Pete Seeger wrote, "when will we ever learn, when will we ever learn."
Dr. T. Douglas Reilly
Los Alamos, New Mexico