Twin Towers survivor living in hope for a better day

·4-min read
Janice Brooks (Janice Brooks/PA) (PA Media)
Janice Brooks (Janice Brooks/PA) (PA Media)

A survivor of the September 11 terror attacks in the US has said she copes by living “in the hope that tomorrow will be a better day and it mostly is”.

Janice Brooks, whose voice was breaking as she recalled her escape from the Twin Towers in New York told a 20th anniversary memorial service: “I think what I hope most of all is that in the next hour or two that you can take some time to not only think about my friends but also everyone who died on September 11.

“If I can be really indulgent, can I please ask that you spare a thought for all the survivors because we are still struggling.”

Ms Brooks, now aged 61 and living in Norfolk, was on the 84th floor in the South Tower where she worked as executive assistant to the chief executive of Euro Brokers, a financial brokerage firm, when the terrorists struck.

Some 61 members of Euro Brokers staff were killed in the attacks.

Ms Brooks was speaking in front of a four tonne twisted piece of steel from the South Tower which has been forged into a memorial artwork at London’s Olympic Park.

Janice Brooks pictured on top of Two World Trade Centre on September 7, 2001 just four days before the attacks (Janice Brooks/PA) (PA Media)
Janice Brooks pictured on top of Two World Trade Centre on September 7, 2001 just four days before the attacks (Janice Brooks/PA) (PA Media)

There were 2,977 people who were murdered on 9/11 from over 90 nations including 67 from Briton when Islamic extremists hijacked aeroplanes and flew them into buildings.

Jon Egan recalled father and aunt Christine, who were originally from Hull, who died in the Twin Towers.

Mr Egan said he has named his newborn son Dean Michael after his father Dean managed to make a final call to his family as the towers crumbled.

Mr Egan, who was raised in the US but said he considers himself “a proud Brit”, told those gathered: “New York City was attacked.

“Washington City was attacked but it was an attack on the world and it was an attack on our way of life.

“It was an attack on the free world.”

He also said that people have to remember what happened afterwards which is that the world “came together” in the face of extremists which is still important at “a time when so much is dividing us”.

In a video recording, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that despite the bloodshed, the terrorists had failed in their mission to instil “permanent fear” across the world.

He said: “They failed to shake our belief in freedom and democracy. They failed to drive our nations apart.”

The memorial was organised by Since 9/11, a UK education charity set up with the aim of ensuring the legacy of that day is one that builds hope from tragedy.

In respectful silence, the mourners in London heard speakers talk of the perished happiness of those who were killed and their loved ones, the survivors and those who remember the shocking act of mass murder.

They heard of how the brutal intolerance which led to that day of mass murder still has to be fought against, not just potentially in Afghanistan which once again has the Taliban in power, but also in British classrooms where education can play a vital role teaching about freedom, equality and democracy.

Caryn McClelland, deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in London, said the memories of those who were killed will “never fade” as they are being recalled in “strength, love, bravery and hope”.

In thanking Britain for its ongoing support, including the poignant symbol of playing the US national anthem outside Windsor Castle on the orders of the Queen on Saturday, Ms McClelland said: “I am humbled to speak on behalf of the United States today to honour the true and enduring friendship you have always show us, not only in the best of times but in the very worst as well.”

Tony Blair who was the prime minister on 9/11, praised the Since 9/11 charity who organised the event for answering “an act of hate with an act of love” and for focusing “not on retribution but on reconciliation”.

In his recorded message, Mr Blair also told the crowd that the thinking of the 9/11 terrorists was “filled with hatred, an ideology at violent odds with a world seeking to flourish across boundaries of faith and culture”.

It is as “flawed and irrational” today as it was 20 years ago, he added.

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