Friday, September 10, 2021

Remembering 9/11 on 20th Anniversary - Anandabazar Patrika Coverage

I wrote an article on 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks for Anandabazar Patrika, the Bengali language daily newspaper with largest circulation. It was published in the "International" section of Septermber 10, 2021 edition. Click on the thumbnail below for the entire page.

Here is a rough translation of the piece:

9/11: Unforgettable moments burnt into my mind

Supratim Sanyal

Washington DC 10 September 2021 08:21

September 11, 2001 started as a comfortable sunny Tuesday morning. I was at work early. It was just short of 9 AM when a friend and colleague returned from the coffee room saying he heard something about a plane crashing into the North Tower of World Trade Center in Manhattan. I assumed it was yet another mis-piloted Cessna diving through a window, perhaps with a couple of casualties. Little did I know in a few minutes I would witness a life-changing set of events in fear, horror and confusion.

Suddenly there was great commotion from the lobby of our office. We ran out and saw everyone staring at the TV,  jaws dropped and apprehension in their eyes. It was 9.03 AM, the second plane had just crashed into the South Tower. Both towers had deep gashes and were burning.

Panic spread among us. We were quickly asked to head home. I wasted no time and hit an unusually quiet I-270. Suddenly two F-16s streaked across overhead at full combat speed. Andrews AFB is very close by and  warplanes were not new to me, having been to several air shows. But this was no airshow! My heart began to pound. At that moment, it occurred to me

I floored the gas and reached home in record time. We were expecting our first child any day at the time. Naturally my wife was also very anxious. I turned the TV on and watched Aaron Brown do his best trying to cover the incredible events unfolding. 

Suddenly - the Pentagon on the TV screen! One side has a great hole and is burning. Thick black smoke. The Pentagon was also hit by a big passenger jet - like the Twin Towers. I later learned that militants hijacked the LAX-bound American Airlines flight from IAD just 35 minutes after takeoff. The plane, carrying 74 passengers, crashed into the west wall of the Pentagon at 9.37 AM.

Barely 31 miles from my house, the attack on the Pentagon sent chills through our bodies. I started to consider jumping into the truck with my wife and speeding away north and west towards West Virginia or Pennsylvania. It seemed that way we just might increase our chances of survival in an unfolding war.

Of course around the same time the heroic passengers of United 93 decided to take on the hijackers and crashed in Pennsylvania at 10.03 AM. That airplane would have been taken out anyway by the two fighter jets if they hadn't crashed. The two F-16 pilots had every intention of flying their fighters into the passenger jet, having had no time to arm their fighters before scrambling.

My wife and I visited the Pentagon that Saturday. The sight will always stay in my head, burnt in, unforgettable.

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