In the middle of August 2001 I was contacted by the friend of a friend. The email started
“Hello, You don’t know me, but I was passed your email address and details from a friend, who is in turn friends with a friend of yours. Anyway, I was hoping that you would be able to undertake some genealogical research for me……”
Over the coming weeks, we exchanged several emails, sharing snippets of our lives that were separated by the Atlantic. I delved into the genealogical research they required, shared my thoughts and wrote an email on 8th September 2001 which said that you need to follow the evidence. I suggested a plan and said I was heading to the National Archives in Kew the following week and to let me know as soon as possible if they wanted me to follow the evidence for them.
On the day of the 11th September 2001 I got myself ready to work. I had to undertake a visit to a branch that was due to have an inspection from the local division of the Department of Health. Nothing dreadful, a routine visit and where there was no usual pharmacist on duty through a vacancy or holiday it was usual for area staff to attend.
The branch in question was located in a medical consortium, which is quite unusual in England, but they do exist. Effectively a group of medical practices, buy land or the building and share general facilities. The waiting room for use of all patients of the several medical practices. In the waiting room was a television for the comfort of patients and this was usually tuned to a news channel or something that was likely not to be controversial.
I was just about to leave, the official business concluded. We heard a series of gasps from the waiting room and turned to see what the problem was. We of course was greeted with the news of the dreadful events of 11th September 2001.
Everyone stopped what they were doing. It was absolutely silent as the news unfolded. We stood there in absolute horror, and disbelief. I ensured the staff were okay and after about forty minutes left and made my way home, listening to the radio in the car and then to Sky News once I was home.
I checked my email and there was nothing from my new friend in the US. I did the usual domestics, got dinner ready, sorted my work schedule for the for the next day and my period of annual leave. I wrote a long email to my boss, who had been on leave, giving him an update. Where all our stores operationally stood, the ones that might have issues, the rescue plans that I had put into place as a precaution and many other snippets, that he just needed to be aware of, all the while listening and watching the news.
I never heard again from my new friend and about three weeks later I heard via the friend of a friend that my new email buddy had lost their life in the dreadful events of that day.
Today is a sad day, not just for America but for the world. People from across the globe lost their lives or had their lives changed that day. It is fair to say, that from that day the world changed, for everyone, forever. Everyone will recall what they did on 11th Sept 2001, in the same way as what they were doing when they heard the news that Princess Diana had died, or JFK.
So today I will light a candle as I have done every year since those dreadful and tragic events.