In the wake of this summers terrorist alerts at British airports, the fatal bomb attacks in London (2005) and Madrid (2004), the daily reports of death and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan and the crises in Iran and Lebanon, the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York feel as though they happened a very long time ago. And yet each of these events is fatally linked to the other. This summers images of tens of thousands of travellers taking off their shoes and turning out their cosmetics at Londons main airports are a reminder, if only a remote one, of the devastating and continuing effects of the destruction of the World Trade Center five years ago.
In order to pay tribute to all the victims of those terrible days in 2001 in this edition we are carrying an extract from a book recently published in Italy by Laura Clarke (see the article "Voices from Ground Zero"), who was working as an editorial assistant in the offices of Wanted in Rome at the time.
At the beginning of the introduction to her book Clarke observes that we all remember where we were the day the Twin Towers were destroyed. How true this is, not only of this tragedy but of so many other tragedies since then.
In the days following the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers (and indeed Madrid and London) it seemed that all of us knew someone who had been directly or indirectly involved in the ghastly tragedy. We all felt personally involved and the western world seemed to be linked by a web of previously unknown kinship. But as time went on we also came to realise that rather than being all-knowing about the events our knowledge was superficial and transitory. Yes, we could remember where we were, we could remember the images, we could remember the immediate dynamics of the event, but what else did we really know about the people whose lives had been touched by the tragedy?
Clarkes book brings all these threads together. She relates that she remembers exactly where she was and what she was doing when she first heard about the tragedy. Then, as though she herself had been blown off course by the blast itself, within a few hours she discovered that one of her cousins was missing, last heard of at work in the Twin Towers. The family tragedy was the beginning of a long and difficult pilgrimage, not only through her own and her familys personal anguish and mourning, but also to find out what had happened to the unsung and often nameless people caught up in the aftermath of the terrorist destruction.
In her book Clarke has risen above her own personal sadness to discover what happened to the lives of many other people directly involved in the events of that day and in the subsequent months and years. Her personal involvement becomes the point of departure for a journey to New York City in February 2005 to interview and chronicle the long-term consequences for others who lived through the nightmare of 9/11.
In her New York pilgrimage Clarke discovers what happened to the emarginated, the illegal immigrants, the Arab-Americans, the Mexican-Americans, the taxi drivers, the restaurant workers. As she points out these were people who not only lost loved-ones but also had an even harder time than the main-stream mourners, such as the Americans or even the British, coming to grips with lives that were devastated in every respect when the planes struck the Twin Towers. It is possible to report people who are missing if their papers are in order, but if they are illegal immigrants? It is possible to start work again if you were legally employed, but if you werent? If you were a Mexican immigrant or someone of Arab origin, or simply with a name that was a bit suspicious what did you do?
In her interviews Clarke gives an insight not only into the personal dilemmas of many of these people but also into the organisations that helped them and gave them hope. Her book provides an extra dimension to the consequences of 9/11, and in her interviews she excavates the depths of the cavern made by the destruction of the Twin Towers to discover an underworld that most of us did not know. These interviews shed new light on the history of those tragic events.
We are happy to be carrying a reworking of Clarkes book as well as some additional material in the centre pages of this edition. The original book, in Italian, is published by Caterini editore (June 2006) and is available in selected Italian bookshops throughout Rome.