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Ground Zero: Never Again

September 11th, 2021 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, if only we could retire the term for all time.

I do not have to remind anyone that today is the 20 year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack against the U.S. By now you have already either watched several retrospectives in the media (many got a jumpstart by doing their stories yesterday) or kept your TV and radio off to avoid them altogether.

By the way, I would really prefer that we not refer to it as an anniversary. I think of anniversaries as things to celebrate. Pick any word you want but that one.

We all have our “where were you when” stories from that day. Here is mine.

I was working on the 28th floor of the Eaton’s Centre tower in downtown Toronto. We had a TV on in the board room breathlessly watching the horrific event unfold. Needless to say, all of us there felt very vulnerable as we watched the footage of the airliners crashing into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre.

Most Toronto companies shut down by mid-morning that day and allowed their shell-shocked staff to go home. It was the right thing to do. However, the result was a large percentage of the computing population of Canada’s largest city descending upon Union Station at the same time desperate to get out of the city.

At that time, there were no mid-day Go Train runs from downtown Toronto to Brampton where I lived at the time. So I stood waiting on Front Street to catch a Brampton-Georgetown bus. The situation quickly deteriorated into an every-man-for himself competition to get to the doors of each bus as it arrived.

Three buses came and went and I was not even close to getting on one of them. The ever-growing crowd was becoming a panicked mob. I feared for my safety should things escalate. I made a judgment call and went back into Union Station to catch the first train at 2:50 pm. I was wedged in with other riders, like sardines in a can, but made it home.

It was a no-brainer that the psychological trauma of 9/11 would stretch out for years. The world no longer seemed like a safe place regardless of where you lived. The spectre of terrorism was planted deep in our minds and has never shaken loose.

But we did not know that the cloud of dust and smoke, from the collapse of the towers and the fires that burned for months, would be toxic and would lead to debilitating illnesses that are still manifesting themselves today in some victims and rescue workers. This would become part of the enduring legacy of 9/11.

Ground Zero. Its origins are the U.S. nuclear tests of 75+ years ago. Hiroshima was ground zero in 1946. The twin towers site began ground zero in 2001. Let us hope that we never have occasion to use the term ever again.

~ Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is also the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at www.mdyetmetaphor.com or the novel online companion at www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog.

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