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Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 07:38 GMT 08:38 UK
One year on

  Click here to watch a recording of the forum.  

  • Click here to read the transcript

    The devastating attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon stunned people across the world.

    One year on, we are living in a very changed world. What has changed for you? How do we feel about world security?

    What are your reflections on this first anniversary? Have the terror attacks on America changed the way you feel?

    Richard Wajda, who survived the attack on the Twin Towers, answered your questions and shared his views in a forum for the BBC's Six O'Clock News from Ground Zero.


    Manisha Tank:

    Welcome to the Six Forum on a day of reflection, one year on from the terrorist attacks that hit America on September 11th, 2001. Ceremonies around the world have commemorated those who lost their lives. But let us not forget those who were inside or close to the towers who survived. For some of them the haunting memories make September 11th seem just like yesterday.

    It's an honour to have with us on this forum, Richard Wajda, a survivor who worked at the World Trade Center. Richard says being late for work that fateful day may have saved his life.

    Richard, it's an honour to have you with us. Many, many e-mails have come in asking me about how you felt that day. Many people saying they feel sick just to think about what happened on September 11th. But first of all put it in perspective for us. You were late for work that day. What happened? What are your initial memories?

    Richard Wajda:

    I was late that day and I arrived at the building just as the first plane had hit and I never went into the building at that point.

    Manisha Tank:

    Now Richard, you say that it seems like being late saved your life. There have been many e-mails from people around Britain and around the world wanting to know how you feel now. One of them comes from Joel in London, UK says: How are you coping one year on?

    Richard Wajda:

    I am dealing with it day to day. Some days are miserable for me. I can't escape the nightmares. I probably had 360 nights of nightmares - the buildings fall in my dreams every single night from a different direction with the story always ending the same. So as far as coping, talking about it is what helps me but it's still very difficult. The nightmare is still there.

    Manisha Tank:

    Casey Smart in England asks: Do you think of each day now as your last? Do you seize the day?

    Richard Wajda:

    Actually, I would say yes because I don't look for tomorrow, I just live for each day. Each day is a new day for me, I just enjoy the day and do whatever I have to do. I don't even look at tomorrow. So if something like this should happen, I'm not going to worry about next week, I'm just going to worry about the moment.

    Manisha Tank:

    We have an e-mail from Timothy Batt, who asks: Do you keep asking, one year on, why?

    Do you still ask why did this happen?

    Richard Wajda:

    I do because regardless of the anger that the Taleban has, why would they want to destruct and kill so many people? Go after the government that they're fighting with - there must be some other way. To attack innocent people on the site behind me, killing 3,000 people - there was no call for that. I question it every day. It's so unfair.

    Manisha Tank:

    Do you as a survivor and other relatives of people killed, still express anger? Do you attend networks, groups etc?

    Richard Wajda:

    Of the people that I know that have lost members of their family, they are angry. But they're not angry at cultures or groups, they're angry with the Taleban directly.

    They're hurt - they're getting through this day by day. I've been speaking to them regularly, for example, a friend who was a fireman that was killed, his uncle is devastated - he'll never accept his death, he'll never accept the reasons for it. But I don't think they're angry with say people from Afghanistan, they're just angry with the people responsible.

    Manisha Tank:

    James in the UK: What do you think of the media coverage?

    Richard Wajda:

    The media coverage, I think, is proper. Some people will say it's too much coverage but this is the one year anniversary for this horrible event. It is helping people that could not be here today to be part of the memorial, especially those who have worked here. There are thousands of people that work elsewhere now. It's helping me, number one, because it shows that the world is coming together. It shows that everyone is united and we're going to get through this and the media is helping.

    Manisha Tank:

    That's encouraging for us to hear. Richard, do you feel that the war on terrorism needs to be expanded?

    What do you think of the war on terrorism?

    Richard Wajda:

    Day to day my answers are going to be different. I'm upset because I don't like violence - I don't believe in violence and there seems to be more threats of violence. This country is under code orange at this point and now we hear stories, are we going to attack this country or that country. I wish that there could be something that could stop it. I am totally against violence.

    Manisha Tank:

    Jenny in the UK is a mother. She writes in saying: how is your mother coping? You called her from the World Trade Center?

    Richard Wajda:

    She's doing good. I know she is concerned for me because other relatives have spoken to me about it - she asks them how I'm doing. A lot of people think the post traumatic stress is getting to me. I talk about this event every day - talking helps me.

    Manisha Tank:

    We're going to have to come to our final answer. Laurie Wilder wrote in from the US asking about the world view. She says hers has changed. Has your view of the world changed?

    Richard Wajda:

    Yes it has. I think more of the world lives in fear. I think that people think that something is going to happen at any given time whether it is or not. America has changed with security. A lot of Americans feel that they are being targeted in situations where they need to be screened - for example - airports. So our freedom now has added restrictions - it is not easy to get around now. So yes it has. I haven't travelled abroad since but I've heard the same stories elsewhere.

    Manisha Tank:

    Richard, thank you so much for being with us. We have to stop there. Thank you so much.

    That was Richard Wajda, a survivor of the September 11th attacks on the US. Whatever you're doing to remember the attacks of a year ago, thanks for joining us on the Six Forum.

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