Friday, January 18, 2013

Where were you when...?

I remember exactly when I heard that two planes had hit the Twin Towers. I remember where I was when I heard US president Ronald Reagan had been shot, as well as Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme.
I remember late September night in 1994. I was studying in a small college outside Turku in Southwestern Finland. Hearing heavy helicopters going over the dorm towards the sea middle of the night. The next morning news told by my college room mate. He had heard from the radio that a ferry had sunk at the sea. I didn't believe it then and I still hear about it. Nowadays as a joke.
The ship was named MS Estonia. 852 people went down in one of the worst maritime disasters of the 20th century. That explained the helicopters.
Immortalized the  memory of us students gathering in the college lobby stunned silent watching the morning TV news. Looking at those shocking TV pictures from the sea. And recovered people being brought from the sea to Turku University Hospital just 20+ kilometers away. To that same hospital where my son would one day be born. Personal history in context of a larger historical picture.
September 11th, 2001 was probably one of the strangest days in my life. I was working as an Editor-in-chief in a local newspaper in Southwestern Finland. In that morning my boss collected me from my home. Me, him and our caricaturist drove to Helsinki. Spent nearly an hour strolling around the city center of Helsinki before moving on to Government Palace by the Senate Square, Prime Minister's office. We were there to hand him the caricaturist's newest book. I was there to take pictures, to write an interview of Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen. How he felt about political satire in books and on television. He had been depicted in one weekly TV satire as a caricature character.
Some hours later me and the caricaturist stayed in Helsinki as the boss left back. We met a colleague. Spent some time. Suddenly the colleague's mobile phone started beeping messages from news agencies. After the second message about the second plane hitting the tower we had to find a TV somewhere. Ended up in a lobby of a city center hotel where people were gathering together. Apparently security level had been raised also in Helsinki since the police cars were going around.
In the evening I took a bus back to Turku. Spent the time on the phone discussing with different people how the world wouldn't be the same after that day.
I remember that day. Those moments. Getting the messages. The feeling. I cannot imagine how the world changed to those people who were really involved in those events some way or living nearby where they happened.
Few days ago, my son started remembering similar events in his life. The big news. Where he had been when he had heard about Osama Bin Laden being killed among other events. It had apparently been at home, through morning news on TV.
The next generation might have different events staying in their minds. But I have a feeling the echo will be the same, no matter if the news will eventually be splashed on their face through social media or through an iPod. Real life story is a story no matter which way you get it.

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