British 9/11 survivor relives horror of atrocity

Janice Brooks, who escaped from the Twin Towers in New York, addresses memorial in London

A survivor of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US 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 that day, told a 20th anniversary memorial service to remember the survivors.

“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," she said.

“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 61 and living in Norfolk, was on the 84th floor in the South Tower where she worked as a personal assistant to the chief executive of Euro Brokers, a financial brokerage firm, when the attack began.

Sixty-one members of staff were killed on 9/11.

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 at London’s Olympic Park.

There were 2,977 people murdered on 9/11 when Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked airliners and flew them into buildings in New York City and Washington. The victims came from more than 90 nations, including 67 from Britain.

Jon Egan's father, Michael, 51, and aunt Christine, 55, who were originally from Hull in north-east England, were killed in the Twin Towers attack.

Michael Egan stayed to help to rescue his employees. He died in the crumbling towers as he spoke on the phone to his wife, telling her he loved her and to kiss his sons.

Mr Egan said he has named his newborn son Dean Michael after his father.

During Saturday's memorial service, Mr Egan urged people to remember that in the aftermath the world “came together” in the face of extremists.

“New York City was attacked," he said. “Washington 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.”

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

“They failed to shake our belief in freedom and democracy. They failed to drive our nations apart," he said.

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.

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 were being recalled in “strength, love, bravery and hope”.

Tony Blair, who was the prime minister on 9/11, praised Since 9/11 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 said.

Updated: September 11th 2021, 4:47 PM
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