Reflecting on the 9/11 attacks
Terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre twin towers on the morning of September 11, 2001

DESPITE the passage of time, the world, and certainly the families here in Jamaica who lost loved ones, have not forgotten the terror unleashed on innocent civilians in the United States on September 11, 2001.

Easily one of history's greatest infamies, the 9/11 attacks, as they have been labelled, resulted in 2,977 deaths — 2,753 when al-Qaeda terrorists crashed two commercial jets into New York's World Trade Center twin towers; 184 at the Pentagon in Washington into which a third aircraft was plunged; and 40 passengers and crew who fought hijackers on a fourth aeroplane which crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Over the weekend we learnt that the remains of 1,649 victims in New York have been identified, the last two through the use of next-generation sequencing technology which is said to be more sensitive and rapid than conventional DNA techniques.

It must be particularly painful for the families and friends of the remaining 1,104 whose remains have not yet been identified. They have not had the benefit of closure after 22 years yesterday. We share their torment. We have no doubt that the loved ones of the victims have, to this day, been unable to overcome the grief and sense of loss that this tragedy brought them.

However, as we have pointed out before, the American people have demonstrated a resilience that has allowed the nation to recover, even as they maintain their pledge to honour the memory of those who perished and refuse to submit to the climate of fear that the 9/11 terrorists sought to create.

Democracy, we hold, must be motivated by the force of ideas and not the force of arms. As such, we are resolute that the world should not submit to the atmosphere of panic the 9/11 hijackers wanted to create by their actions.

Every opportunity must be taken to make clear the fact that murder and mayhem will not shake our belief in the ideals of democracy, freedom, and tolerance of cultural diversity.

And, even as we acknowledge that Washington's history of military and political involvement in a number of countries has created enemies, nothing can justify the carnage that was inflicted on America and the international community on that day and which, undoubtedly, changed the world forever, as it has created a general atmosphere of suspicion and, in some instances, intolerance.

We fear it will be difficult to erase that mindset as it has mushroomed, particularly in developed countries that are struggling to deal with unending waves of migrants that are placing increased pressure on their social and economic structures.

How all that will be sorted out is for another discussion, because at this moment our thoughts are with the many families who suffered loss in the 9/11 attacks. Jamaica's long history of friendship with the United States, which is home to many Jamaicans, justifies our reflection on this tragedy.

And on this day, 24 hours after America lived up to its promise to never forget, we remind our friends in the north, and the freedom-loving people of this world, of a charge by late British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill: "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."

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