It sounded like a piece of radio storytelling like War of the Worlds, but it kept going on and on for most of my trip along the highway. I phoned my Mum to mention this to her, and ask her if something had indeed happened (as I knew she'd be listening to the CBC radio news at the same time as I would be). She said she'd heard something about a plane - might have been a Cessna, single-pilot-plane sort of thing, but she was tuning into the television to find out more.
Not until I pulled through the busy security gates at the complex, and entered the floor where my office was, did I see that every TV on the floor was tuned to live shots of the smoking buildings. I remember staring dumbstruck at a TV monitor as I saw the images of the first building collapsing. It was as if a whole era of the world had ended and a new one had started in a handful of seconds.
I sensed the ending of countless lives.
Over three thousand people died in the attacks, including the 19 hijackers. Many people were injured and traumatized. Each life was a world and a universe unto itself.
Citizens of more than 90 countries lost people that day in New York, at the Pentagon and in a field in Pennsylvania. 24 of those people were Canadian. 411 of the people who died were emergency workers responding to the attacks.
Each and every one of these lives was a world and a universe.
Lest we forget.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941