Andrew Semmens, Australia

Editor’s Note: The essay below was written in 2001 and appears in the self-published book, Through Our Eyes: A Tapestry of Words and Images in Response to September 11. Printed and distributed in 2002, the book was the result of an independent, volunteer documentary project organized by a journalist and several friends. The author’s bio was written in 2002 and has not been updated.  

Melbourne, Australia

Andrew “Huzzy” Semmens is a witty 27-year-old accountant who lives and works in his native city, Melbourne, Australia. Interests include cooking, eating, drinking, sports and “toilet humour.” Huzzy also loves traveling – he’s been to America and wandered through Europe. When it comes to his faith, he attends the Uniting Church. Huzzy was in bed watching television when he saw a live broadcast of the second hijacked plane slamming into the World Trade Center. He wrote his essay about a week-and-a-half later.

I was watching TV at 11pm Tuesday night when the story broke minutes after the first plane. I saw the second plane crash live. There has been an outpouring of grief in Australia and complete disbelief, especially on Wednesday morning. There was a guy at work who was really distraught about it to the point of almost crying.

There has been memorial services here, minute silences before sporting events and constant media updates. Even though America is a bit maligned for various reasons, there is a real affinity between Australia and the US. I guess that’s why so many Australians have been so affected by the tragedy; it’s as if the plane crashed into one of our own cities.

This week, I feel everyone is moving on a bit and getting on with life. Amongst people I know, there’s no real ruthless desire to destroy the Middle East. I would expect most Americans would be hell bent on revenge, but I’m worried about what type of response will be inflicted. If it’s a strategic ALLIED response directed at those responsible, I would support this. However, I fear George Bush will bow to public pressure and direct a full-on American assault against the Arab world, killing many innocent people.

In my opinion, there needs to be a greater understanding of why this terrorist attack occurred. What has America done to deserve this type of drastic action? Is there more to the story than we’re being told? I assume it’s because of the US backing Israel. Why is the US doing this when Israel is illegally occupying part of Palestine? How many Palestinians die annually from confrontation with Israeli forces? Is bin Laden the scapegoat or the perpetrator? The planning of the operation suggests there must be a huge number of people in on this.

It’s such a complex issue and an explosive retaliation is not going to solve anything but the public’s desire for blood. I can only see it inflaming the situation if the Allied response is not handled carefully. It’s going to be an interesting next few weeks and I hope everything settles down soon.


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