It is a scene that no one who witnessed it – in person or via the media, will soon forget: September 11, 2001 – the day America stood still. The normalcy of the typical New York day was shattered as two passenger planes, which had been hijacked by terrorists, slammed into the 110-storey Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre. Formerly the tallest buildings in the world, where thousands of people worked and traversed daily, the structures imploded and virtually melted to the ground, spewing debris, dust and ash across wide swathes of lower Manhattan. A third plane crashed into the Pentagon, killing 189 people.
When it was all said and done, 2,996 people lost their lives, while many more were left to live with the awful memories, the mental, emotional and physical scars. Among that number were 20 Jamaicans. This number includes:
- Joyce Smith, a chef at Forte Food, a catering company associated with the trading firm Cantor Fitzgerald located on the 101st floor of the South Tower.
- Neil Hinds and Keith Broomfield. Hinds was a former athlete who was attending a seminar in a building near the Trade Center when one of the towers collapsed and debris crushed him before he could escape. He died in hospital. Broomfield worked on the 110th floor of Tower 1.
- Venesha Richards, who grew up mainly in St Catherine, Jamaica, worked as a broker’s claim representative with Marsh & McLennan on the 100th Floor of WTC One in New York City. She left behind a husband and 11-month-old daughter.
These four and the other 16 Jamaicans, were honoured with a permanent memorial erected at the British Garden at Hanover Square, in lower Manhattan. The British Garden is a joint project between the British Consulate and the St George’s Society in New York. It was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2010 and its founding was prompted by a desire to honour and memorialise the 67 British subjects who lost their lives in the tragic attacks. Since then, the purpose of the British Garden has been expanded to also honour other Commonwealth subjects lost in the attacks.
The aftermath of the 9/11 attacks are still being felt all across the globe today, 13 years later. For instance:
- Air travel has become a much more stressful experience, with more stringent airport security procedures, and anti-Muslim sentiments continue to grow in the States and around the world.
- In the months following the attacks, the local tourism industry suffered a huge blow as Americans, our largest market, basically halted travelling overseas. Several of the island’s major hotels including Couples, Sandals, SuperClubs, Jamaica Grande and the Ritz Carlton, were forced to lay off or rotate staff because of extremely low occupancy levels.
- This also affected the local auto industry.
- Air Jamaica, our former national airline, suffered a US$70-million loss in revenue.
Today, we honour the lives of the nearly 3,000 people who died on 9/11.
- Jamaica’s statement to the 23rd Meeting of Consultations of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Member States of the Organization of American States
- Jamaica signed the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism on November 10, 2001
- Parliament passed the Terrorism Prevention Act on April 8, 2005