A day not forgotten

Twenty years on, Dave Powell of Marananga reflects on the attacks of September 11, 2001, having been in North America at the time.

On the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, two Barossa winemakers recall their reactions to the tragic events of the day that changed the world.

Ask anyone old enough to remember, chances are they will be able to tell you exactly where they were as the terror attacks on the United States of America unfolded on September 11, 2001.

It was one of those unforgettable, world-defining moments; the horror, the disbelief, the anger.

It’s hard to believe two decades have passed since that fated day, and with distressing images recently beaming out of out Afghanistan at the end of the war September 11 began, many have paused to reflect on the catalytic event that changed the course of history.

For former Lyndoch winemaker, Mr Trevor Jones, September 11 was particularly significant.

Having flown into Boston on September 10, 2001 on business, he found himself caught in the ensuing chaos of the attacks that ripped through the entire country.

“I’d started travelling regularly to the US in the late ’90s, two or three trips a year,” Trevor told The Leader.

“It was just a normal, planned trip.”

Trevor was at Starbucks following a breakfast meeting with a business associate when the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Centre in New York.

“I can remember seeing lots of police cars and unmarked cars with lights flashing, it was just a weird amount. It was almost like every authority in Boston was heading toward the city centre,” Trevor recalled.

“In retrospect they were nervous about their buildings.”

It wasn’t until Trevor returned to his hotel that he learned there had been a terrible plane crash, although the circumstances at that stage were still unclear.

He turned on the television in his room just in time to witness the second plane impact the south tower.

“After that I realised it was a terrorist attack,” Trevor said.

“I went down to the lobby, and everyone was just looking at each other in the lift, and I remember thinking, we shouldn’t be in here.

“Everything was a blur after that. You were trying to get your head around what had happened.

“It was horrible.”

Later, from a hotel room in Washington DC, where he’d travelled by train in the anxious days following the attack, Trevor penned a heartfelt Letter to the Editor, published in the September 19, 2001 edition of The Leader.

From a foreigner’s perspective, it perfectly captured the mood of the moment.

“I am here and I feel the pain of the American people first hand,” he wrote.

“Often seen as boisterous and loud by Australians, they have joined and voiced grief and resolve to endure whatever is still to come.

“Marketing wine seems insignificant here right now, however to be amongst the Americans here on the East Coast at this time has changed my life forever.”

Around the same time, another well-travelled Barossa winemaker, Mr Dave Powell, was travelling into the United States from Mexico.

Engulfed by the immediate fallout of the attacks, he observed the wrath of a proud nation horrifically wronged.

“People were really angry… They were out for revenge, which I always think is a bad idea,” he said.

“The attacks were disgusting, gutless, you name it, killing 3,000 odd innocent people. 

“I’m not anti-America, but you can’t mess around in other people’s backyards and not think that these guys might not find a way to get you, and they did, big time.

“At the end of the day, their pride was hurt, and here we are 20 years later. We’ve lived with this, and it’s incredibly sad.”

Despite the years of conflict that have followed the attacks, both Trevor and Dave agree there were also changes for the better.

“After September 11, New York became a big village again,” Dave said. 

“It got a lot friendlier, people actually started to stop and talk to each other, and feel like they were part of something. 

“I believe in that regard it brought a lot of Americans together.”

Trevor added, “If there was anything good to come out of that era and that generation, it was the realisation that we are vulnerable and that was a lesson.

“It was a horrible way to learn it, but my attitude is things happen in life for a reason.

“I think when America re-opened, the people were different. They were more open.”

Reflecting on the emotions he himself felt in that lonely hotel room far from home and new wife, Mandy all those years ago, Trevor acknowledges it was an event that left its mark on him, as it did for almost all who witnessed it.

“Obviously other things have happened that have also shaped my life, but it certainly changed the way that I thought about the world,” he said.

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