Shillong, Sept 11: Two decades ago on this day, the world watched in horror as the twin towers of World Trade Centre in New York crumbled. It was a terrorism story that America did not foresee and the world did not imagine.
Among the lives lost in the terrorist attacks was a man from Manipur. Jupiter Yambem worked at the Windows of the World bar atop the North Tower. Dr Bremley Lyngdoh, environmentalist and researcher from Shillong, was then a student at Columbia University. He would often meet Yambem at the bar.
“It’s been 20 years since 9/11 and I am remembering my friend Jupiter from Manipur. I used to visit him at bar and restaurant while I was studying at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University,” Lyngdoh told Meghalaya Monitor.
It was fate that Yambem was at work in the day shift inside the North Tower. It was fate again that delayed Lyngdoh for a presentation in the tower.
“I will never forget 9/11, the day I saw the second plane hit the second tower where I was supposed to be giving a presentation on sustainable transportation for Manhattan with the New York Port Authority on the 90th floor. I was late by 27 minutes for my class work presentation as I was coming from Long Island City in Queens. When I got off the metro, the first tower was already burning and then I saw the second plane hit with a loud explosion and I knew it was a terrorist attack from my experience working in Sri Lanka during the civil war with so many LTTE bomb attacks,” recollected Lyngdoh.
Columbia University lost many fellow students and graduates in the attacks and “I remember giving blood as part of our SIPA Response team at ground zero. Sometimes it’s better to be late than never”, he remembered the horror of the terrorist attacks.
The Columbia University flag flew at half mast in memory of the 41 affiliates who died on the day. Lyngdoh graduated the year after. The global community of students from 175 countries at the university were shaken and the trauma haunted them for years.
On the 20th anniversary of the attacks on Saturday, US President Joe Biden called on Americans to remember the importance of unity, a UNI report said.
Earlier this week, Biden designated September 11 as Patriot and National Day of Service and Remembrance and noted that on this day, all government entities should display the US flag at half-staff.
Commemorating the day, UN chief Antonio Guterres said, “Today we mark a somber day seared in the minds of millions of people around the world — a day when nearly 3,000 lives from over 90 countries were taken by terrorists in cowardly and heinous attacks in the United States of America. Thousands more were injured.”