Daily Archives: September 11, 2011

The view from Sarajevo, 12 September 2001

by Rhodri C. Williams

On the tenth anniversary of 9-11, I thought it might be more appropriate to post on what I thought then than what I think now. Then was Sarajevo, working on property restitution with the OSCE, my then girlfriend (now wife) ‘A-L’ in New York doing an LLM. What to say about the decade that followed? Turns out Ehud read the tea leaves better than I did, I guess. My endless gratitude to ‘H’ for having a proper filing system and digging this ancient email up.

During World War II, a fighter on patrol got lost in fog and hit the Empire State Building.  It made a big hole that was patched and life went on.  Thats the first thing I thought of when my boss called me in my office to tell me the news yesterday afternoon.  Simultaneously, some other part of my mind was tracking A-L’s morning bus route past the twin towers.  The rain was pouring down outside, and the email I was typing on the stage during which an administrative decision becomes executable under Bosnian law stopped in its tracks.

CNBC was the only channel we could get in the guard room, which was already packed with colleagues.  Smoke was pouring out of both towers into a hazy blue New York sky, the likes of which had greeted me so many bleary mornings on the way to law school.  As the Pentagon caught fire and the south tower went in a vast cloud of smoke, the world ground and slowly rotated from its bearings.

Anything was possible.  The urban architecture of the eastern seaboard was steadily being demolished in paced five minute blasts.  Every airplane in the sky had gone mad.

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