Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 and the 2996

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.


Footnote:

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 . .



27 comments:

i beati said...

so special thanks

Bimbimbie said...

Poignant*!*

Brian Miller said...

a stilling post baino. all those lives silenced and continuing to be silenced in the aftermath...

subtorp77 said...

Baino, quite moving( they all are ). I just want this bloody war over!

Roy said...

Good one, Baino!

Darlene said...

This is a lovely tribute to Andrew Knox and all the others who lost their lives so senselessly.

One of the horrors of 9/11 was that it was done to innocents; not combatants.

We will never forget this date.

Cinnamon said...

A very fitting tribute Baino. I take your point that there are peoples all over the world subjected to terror attacks. I think what made this one different and so shocking was 1. the scale, 2. the way it was targeted at the World trade centre- ie at the world. Peace-loving Muslims lost their lives too. We must not learn to hate.

otin said...

I always imagine the horror of the people who were on the planes. It is amazing to me how people who are evil, will try to justify their actions by attaching them to a belief! I agree about Iraq, it was a silly diversion. We should have found Bin Laden, no matter where he went, no matter what country we had to go in to and made an example of him to show the world that if we get fucked with that we will stop at nothing to find the people responsible! Letting Bin Laden go made us look weak in our policies, but our soldiers deserve every ounce of respect that they get! I love your passion!!!!

Pam said...

A moving tribute Baino - so thoughtful and well-written.A heartfelt and touching way to remember Andrew Knox and his family.Thank you on behalf of those of us who feel this way, but can't express it so clearly or well.My heart goes out to families with irreplaceable losses.

Ribbon said...

Yep... another big loud human blunder!

Mim said...

Thanks...

Kath Lockett said...

Andrew Knox also worked at SA WorkCover Corporation, so when 9/11 happened I was still working there and his death affected many of them, too.

The scholarship at UniSA is (unfortunately) managed by BULLDOG because she has close ties with SA Unions.... If Andrew knew what she was really like, he'd snatch back the money and get someone decent to administer it!

Megan said...

My thoughts go out to his family.

nick said...

Jenny and I went to the WTC Visitors Centre at Ground Zero last year and read many many stories from people involved in the disaster. They were all so moving and full of heroic accounts of rescue and support and lives rebuilt. Some years before we had been to the top of the WTC and it was so weird to see that empty space where it used to be.

Grannymar said...

May they never be forgotten.

At the end of the day those who died are now pain free, it is the mothers, fathers, siblings, wives, husbands and lovers that have the pain of a gaping black hole gouged deep into their existence and every waking moment. They are the people I feel most sorry for.

It is not just 2996 victims, it brings home the fact that all our lives hang by a thread; a thread that can be broken at any moment by some sick and twisted individual.

Stay safe!

Rowe said...

A moving and thoughtful tribute for Andrew, Baino. It was an horrendous day, it should not have happened. I am glad you also mentioned the countless innocent victims killed in wartorn countries, largely ignored, because it is happening in third world or non western countries.

unstranger said...

The world of Islam will always be an evil place in my eyes. Self preservation demands it.

Gledwood said...

Channel 4 did an interesting season of documentaries about 11/9 e.g. a compilation of last calls on answerphones from people trapped in the buildings before they went down. It was really sad hearing just the tone of the relatives' voices ...

Having said all that these tv progs covered all the angles I'd have expected. But not some of the stuff I'd really want to know about. Call be callous, but if you ran a business headquartered in one of the towers and then the towers went down... what happened to that business. Did it survive? If so how? THAT is the sort of stuff that interests me. In a way it puts a positive spin on things "triumph over adversity" ... rather than just enduring it ...

... know what I mean??

Gledwood said...

Another thing we barely hear of: there was a restaurant called Windows Of The World/whatever on the 106th floor of the N tower, I do believe (I saw the docu just a couple of days ago) ... I always wanted to eat there ~ I mean how can you beat the view?

Now it doesn't exist.

I really wanted to go to New York before. Somehow after this the shine came off the idea. I can't say why. It's certainly not that I'm scared of terrorists we've had far more bombs go off here than New York ever has. It's more the shine went off the idea of New York City: it didn't seem such an invincible place after all ...

Sarah Lulu said...

I remember so well seeing it almost live ...I think I was awake and couldn't sleep ....with the tv on ...dozing and I thought at first it was a dreadful movie.

I would one day like to visit New York to pay tribute myself.

Susan at Stony River said...

I loved this post. You've made me love Andrew too---pulling a stranger onto a train by the lapels?? LOL I wish it had been me! A scholarship is a perfect tribute to him; he can go on helping people this way.

Loved the way you wrapped it up, especially. Amen.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

beautiful, thoughtful remembrance of a horrific event.... alas your footnote is so much more that a footnote and thank you also for concluding with those important thoughts.

lettuce said...

hard to believe it was so recent
and so long ago

Kath Lockett said...

Back again, with a far more mature and suitable attitude this time. Your post was lovely and it's a tragedy (such an understatement) that will be felt for a long, long time.

Candie Bracci said...

That was a beautiful post you wrote here Baino!

Brandi Reynolds said...

a beautiful and honest tribute

e said...

This post brought tears to my eyes...