With the twelve year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks falling the day after I moved back to Leicester, I didn’t get much of a chance to sit and watch documentaries. What with all of the unpacking (that I successfully dodged with expert procrastination) and the fact that we haven’t bought a tv license (due to it being a massive rip-off; iplayer is free!) my annual ritual of hunkering down for a long slog of heart-wrenching documentaries was put on hold.
However, I did manage to watch a few whilst at home, which got me thinking.
Firstly, I have to say that 9/11 fascinates me. It was a horrific event, an unimaginable act of terror against innocent people that were carrying out their daily lives without knowing that by midday their beautiful city would be gripped with fear as their skyline transformed in a cloud of dust. To have such a devastating act of terror enacted against a global superpower shook the western world; the loss of life was relatively small in comparison to other events, but it symbolised something much more.
I think this is what has enthralled many historians, and myself, when thinking about 9/11 on a larger scale. It was actually what I wrote about on my UCAS form when applying to do American Studies, as it fascinated me so much to see the impact one hour’s worth of events could have on the United States, and the rippling effect this had throughout the world.
However, I hadn’t given much thought to the general public’s opinion on President Bush’s reaction to become entangled in a war in the middle east. Ordinary Americans on the street, who perhaps were not directly affected by the destruction of the World Trade Centre but were part of the city and community affected. When the 7/7 attacks took place in London, the reaction was obviously upset and hurt, but relatively calm in comparison to the American reaction. A documentary I watched was filmed on handheld cameras on the streets, from points of view I had never seen before showing the anger and retaliation from ordinary New Yorkers watching the events unfold. It surprised me that the immediate reaction of more than one person was ‘let’s bomb them and show them they can’t mess with the US!’
I think it shocked me more than anything because I had assumed Americans would be angered at President Bush’s decision to enter the middle east and see the far-reaching implications of such an endeavour. Also the lack of knowledge of who “them” were, and who had actually carried out the attack was evident but their hatred was definitely directed at someone or something.
I’ll spare you the rant, but this gives you a small insight into my interests within my course and just how varied it can be. People may not understand how you can “just study America” as it’s such a young country, but let me tell you, enough has happened to keep me busy for 4 years.