I’ve heard that the American media have been overloaded with retrospectives all week, observing the ten-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Here in the Netherlands, however, we’re just starting to tune into the collective remembrances.
I’m finding it really interesting to hear the international perspectives on the the September 11th attacks. On television this evening, they’re showing clips of Dutch people sharing the memories of where they were and what they were doing at the moment that the news from New York started filtering in. One Dutch man tells that he was just getting ready to start a meeting at which he would be serving as chairman, when he heard the news of the attacks on New York; so he started off their meeting by sharing the news item with the rest of his colleagues, many of whom immediately burst into tears. Another Dutch woman says that she learned about the attacks through a panicked phone call from her hysterical mother.
Of course, everyone has their distinct memories. Still I was surprised to hear the level of emotional impact that September 11th had on Europeans, not just Americans. I honestly don’t know if there’d be the same level of sympathy today, if there were similar attacks on the USA. Over the last ten years, the Americans have come to be seen as more of a bully than as a victim (primarily because of the American response to the attacks, eventually leading to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq). But back then, Europeans were still willing to cry and become hysterical for American tragedy. And this weekend, it seems, perhaps we’re all willing to re-live the moment again.