Ten years on the stories still shock

06 September 2011 | 8:14 - By Matthew Hall

Former President George W. Bush last week was the feature attraction in a two-hour cable TV interview reconstructing his thoughts and actions on September 11, 2001.


Former President George W. Bush was at a school in Florida when he was told of the plane attacks. (AP)

Ten years after the events that changed the way we see the world, Bush gave his own account for the first time. It was not to a news network but the National Geographic Channel. Among his recollections, the “fog of war” frustrated judgement as he left that now infamous classroom in Florida to fly around the country on Air Force One, the President’s jumbo jet office which doubled as a safe haven in the sky.

The interview saw Bush humanised – as a husband and father he worried for the safety of his wife and daughters – but now detached from the political process he can afford to be. It’s worth recalling that Bush refused to speak about the day to the 9/11 Commission in 2004 under oath. Instead, he gave an unrecorded private interview and only on condition that Vice-President Cheney be present. Distance has mellowed Bush.

So New York is about to embark on a surreal week ahead of the 10-year anniversary of the attacks. It’s passing, though, is not about presidents or politicians or mayors. It is about the smaller things that contribute to the big picture. There will be many kids’ birthdays at my local park on Saturday but not on Sunday. Inviting toddlers to blow up balloons and break a piñata (a Mexican tradition now common in New York) on September 11 has been deemed (rightly) not quite right.

Yet 10 years later there are still stories that can be told about that day – even if many of them are uncomfortable. The most despairing are the “jumpers”. According to one credible estimate, one in six people who died in the North Tower jumped from windows to their death.

Trapped in smoke or fire, or with nowhere to go as ceilings and floors collapsed, outside was considered the only option. It is a 9/11 story that few want to talk about. According to the New York City Examiner’s Office: "We don't like to say they jumped. They didn't jump. Nobody jumped. They were forced out, or blown out." To this day, the jumpers also remain mostly anonymous.

You can read a fascinating story about the search for the identity of the ‘Falling Man’, a controversial photo taken on the day, here.

And then, there are the perspectives of the kids, those who were kindergarten children at the time of the attack and are now teenagers whose entire lives have been lived in the shadow of the World Trade Center, even though the towers have not stood for a decade.

“I remember seeing people jumping from the windows – I remember that,” said one, Luca, whose school was close to the Towers.

“I asked my mom, ‘Oh, do they have a trampoline at the bottom?’ She was like, ‘No.’”

Luca is not alone. This is just one of millions of similar small stories that add up and up and up and up and someway explain why closure on 9/11 might be a long time coming.


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Comments (5)

20 Sep 2011 14:33 AEST

Courtney P

From: Gold Coast

Capitalising on 9/11?

Last year I had the pleasure of visiting New York City. At the time this was nearly 9 years since the attacks and the memorial was still fenced off and under construction. I did, however, visit the 9/11 memorial museum across the road from Ground Zero. We payed for admission & it was a really touching experience but I was shocked when I saw there was a gift shop on the way out... If people are capitalising on such a tragedy then they should be ashamed of themselves, inside job or not!

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10 Sep 2011 15:48 AEST


From: Bentleigh

Have the courage to wake up

Its time to have the courage to face the truth about 9/11. Main stream media lack the courage to challenge the official account of what happened. Controlled collapse of three buildings. Nowhere in the world has a building come down in that manner due to fire but on 9/11 we have 3. Dozens of firefighters experienced basement explosions and there has been no investigation into this. No self respecting reporter could ignore events that just don't add up. The truth is just too awful for many to face.

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07 Sep 2011 16:34 AEST

Dr. R.F. Price.

From: Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia.

Programs about 9/11

What is needed is not US government views, but those of the many experts who doubt the official story and who have not been allowed by SBS or other media to make their views public. Only on some websites can one find the evidence of what REALLY happened and the names and qualifications of those who demand the truth. But this would upset US policy of wars and demonising of Muslims.

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07 Sep 2011 9:43 AEST

Bryan Charles Witten

From: Australia

9/11 Documentary

It would appear the producers of this program thought the plate of biscuits on the table in the bunker far more news breaking than the collapse of the third building, yes building 7. A 70 story concrete and steel building that fell to the ground in the afternoon of 9/11. They also seemed to leave out the comments made by many, including the firefighters, media and residents of NY about the many many explosions that occurred on that day, some prior to the first plane hitting the first tower!

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06 Sep 2011 23:20 AEST


From: Gold Coast

Building 7

911 was an inside job. Who's responsible? We will never no but building 7 being Demolished on the same day just six hrs later Should help everyone understand it's not what it seems. There are thousands of engineers that have researched this and come to the conclusion It could only be a controlled demolition. Molten pools of steel??? How is that possible With out thermite or thermate. 3000 people dead that day... Millions murdered in shock and awe

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About this Blog

Matthew Hall presents a first-hand look at world events from a different angle.

Matthew Hall New York-based writer Matthew Hall has chased fugitives across Texas, been shot in outback Australia and has lunched with Liza Minnelli.