Monday, September 11, 2006

Reflections on 9/11

Today I reflect about where I was five years ago and how I felt when the World Trade Center was turned into the world's largest crypt.

I was a student at the University of Ottawa and had just started my graduation year (my last year of my program). I had just had my regular morning shower when my roommate said something had happened in New York. I didn't believe it. I saw a hole in the side of the first tower and was hearing that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I thought nothing of it as I left for work.

By nine in the morning I was already at the top of Thompson Residence at the University of Ottawa. I was faithfully performing my duties as a fridge rental representative of Coldex. Basically, I was delivering bar refrigerators to the students who were staying in that residence. The students just had to pay their fees and sign the contract. I had set up five appointments and was merely delivering the refrigerators one at a time while collecting the money and contracts as I went.

I had finished my second delivery when, waiting for the elevator, I heard loud yelling coming from within the lounge of the eighteenth floor of Thompson Residence. I walked into the lounge to see, on the television, both World Trade Center towers with plumes of smoke rising far above it. I was initially in shock at what was going on.

Later on as I thought about it, I consider myself to be a little naive for continuing my delivery of three more refrigerators in Thompson Residence. I thought later, "what was I doing in the next tallest building next to the Peace Tower of Parliament Hill?" The Peace Tower, the clock tower of the Centre Block of Canada's federal Parliament would be a major target in North America if the terrorist bastards had decided to attack both the United States and Canada. Of course nobody knew which country was a target back then.

I was a little worried that I might be a victim of a similar attack on Canada's Capital. Footnote to American readers: Ottawa is the capital of Canada. What would happen if an airplane or some other type of attack hit downtown Ottawa? Considering I was a mere ten minute walk from the House of Commons in Ottawa, I was a worried.

Later on as I watched the continuing news coverage, I felt proud as a Canadian. Eastern Canadian towns and cities like Halifax, St. John's, Cornerbrook, Gander and others were around two hundred and thirty planes that were either destined for the continental United States or further westward in Canada. The planes whose flights originated in Europe and were destined for the United States were orphaned. The United States had closed their airspace all together. These planes couldn't return to Europe as these planes did not have enough fuel to return from whence they came.

 There was a choice to be made. Canada could close its airspace and leave those on the North American bound planes parish as well, or Canada could accept those orphaned planes into its airspace and let the passengers and crew survive. It was not a simple task as many of the eastern airports were not built to accept that many planes that they did that day. I was proud that the federal, provincial and municipal officials and public got together in a time of need. I'm still proud today as United States Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, again thanked Canada for its help on September 11, 2001.

That day will mark a major day in history of my life and the world no doubt. Both the people of Canada and the United States pulled together that day to try and help their neighbours. That is why, in terms of North America, Canada and the United States should work together so that both countrys' people can live in peace and freedom both in terms of themselves and with each other. 9/11 tested each countrys' resolve of living with peace and freedom. Even five years later, this peace and freedom of each country's peoples continues to be tested.

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