No FF trivia tonight. It's a pensive day and I'm in a pensive mood. I remember heading into work that fateful day and thinking that for some reason someone had programmed a science fiction movie rather than the "Today Show" . .but they hadn't. Four planes had taken to the air to do their destructive best, and two managed to create a catastrophe unknown in the Western World. The untouchable had been touched. Terror had transcended the Middle East and flown holus bolus into the Twin Towers in arguably America's most well known city. Whilst we hear stories of civilian casualties in far flung places and barely bat an eyelid, here, in the bastion of freedom, the land of the brave, 2996 of their own were slaughtered and that brought the new message of international terrorism right to our back door. Yes OUR back door because there were foreigners working in those buildings, not just Americans.
When a Facebook friend asked me and others to participate in this project to pay tribute to each of the 2996 victims of the Twin Towers attack, I was only too willing to participate. I asked the blog author if I could pay tribute to one of the Australian victims and he kindly obliged.
This event was not just an American event, it affected the world profoundly. It changed the nature of things. It changed our perception of Islam, it changed the way we do business, the way we travel, our attitudes to foreigners and neighbours, our attitudes to Government and our attitudes to personal safety. It did indeed strike terror into our hearts and in that respect, it was extremely successful.
But this isn’t about the global effect of this awful event. This is about a 30 year old Australian man who found himself in the North Tower on the 103rd floor on that fateful day 8 years ago. Andrew Knox. I don't know Andrew but he was just minding his own business, doing what everyone else was doing that day - attending another day at the office.
Andrew was a burgeoning unionist, well-known to the union and labour movement in Australia. He was an official in the South Australian branch of the Australian Worker’s Union (AWU). He perhaps had a promising career within the labour movement and maybe even politics, I don't know what his aspirations were and never will but he wouldn’t have been the first unionist to make his way into Federal Parliament - this is now a moot point - just conjecture.
Colleagues described him as mature and clear about his path ‘genuine’ and ‘respectful’. A university friend remembers him as “A gorgeous man who was as big in personality as he was in person.” Another acquaintance thought him witty and wise with a grand laugh and a contagious smile. “He lit the room up when he entered, and I don't think anybody he met will ever forget him”. Apparently a gentleman and a 'gentle man'.
An American friend recalls:
Andrew Knox lived near me on the Upper East Side. I met him one morning in 2000 when he grabbed me by the lapels and yanked me on to the 6 train as the doors were closing. His comment "Now you won't be late for work!" was his introduction. We used to run into each other on our morning walk to the subway and became friends. I miss him and think of him every time I miss a train!!!He certainly sounded like a typical Aussie, good-humoured, strong and telling it like it is with a future of promise cut short by the act of a misguided zealot.
He will be remembered by the University of South Australia, who have established a Memorial Scholarship for research into industrial relations or labour issues in his name. The scholarship - worth A$20,500 a year for up to three years - was established to commemorate Andrew. I wonder if the students taking advantage of the grant will know his story.
In 2004 the AWU named their training centre and garden after Andrew as an added tribute to this life cut short but not forgotten.
More importantly, Andrew was a son, a brother, a friend, a person not just a statistic and that's why I wanted to pay him tribute. Andrew’s family are very private and despite some initial media attention, once his death was confirmed, he was afforded the quiet and dignity he deserved. From my family who remember their dead loved ones with deep love and affection, to Andrew's family because, no parent should ever, ever, outlive their children.
Let us not fall prey to similar zealotry and xenophobic urges that we see so often perpetrated against us. Let us see reason and understand that this was the act of a small group of misguided souls not the entire world of Islam. Let us be benevolent but watchful. Cautious but unafraid because once we give into the fear, the terrorist has his victory. Be nice to each other because you never know when harm will strike or in what shape and form.
Whilst the almost 3000 who died in the World Trade centre are worthy of remembrance as innocent victims of a barbaric attack, and the day should never, ever be forgotten, let us also not forget the tens of thousands of troops fighting the most inappropriate of wars in Iraq sent by an equally over zealous President (and in our case blindly followed by our Prime Minister) with virtually no evidence, rhyme or reason. Let us also never forget the hundreds of thousands of civilians caught between rocks and hard places in Iraq and Afghanistan and countless other more sinister wars around the world who have no-one to help or to remember their lost sons and daughters.
Lest we forget . .