05 Oct / A Swiss in America on 9/11
The 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Washington, DC on the 14th anniversary of the attack. Photo by Mattia Bütikofer.
On 9/11 2001, at the time those hijacked airplanes were smashing into the World Trade Center, I was 8 years old and had just started my 3rd year of primary school; much more interested in toys than politics. I could never have imagined that exactly 14 years later I would be sitting on a bench at the Pentagon 9.11 Memorial with turner4D Managing Director Sid Balman.
I am Swiss, working at business campaigning GmbH and I’m currently visiting our US-partner, turner4D.
Americans can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing on 9/11. But also in Switzerland, many can clearly remember the day, even those who were just kids.
The Swiss were shocked about the scope of the attack, and like most people around the world supported a strong response.
There was support for fighting such terrorism in my circle of acquaintances, but disappointment in the way it has dragged out with mixed results and how it seems to have hardened the United States and much of the world against peaceful engagement.
I’m told that the themes of American country music are a good way to gauge the attitude of many people in the United States. That’s why, when I visited the Pentagon Memorial, my mind wandered to the song “Where Were You When” by Alan Jackson. I surveyed other country lyrics in the days following my visit to the memorial, and found that patriotism and defense of the United States were major themes in found country music in the months and years following the 9/11 attack.
The United States is not the only nation where 9.11 ushered in an era of re-emergent patriotism, and, in some ways a political shift to right. In my home country of Switzerland, supposedly known for its tolerance and neutrality, the ruling Swiss Peoples Party advances strongly anti-immigration, pro-military policies.
Until my trip to the Pentagon 9.11 memorial, I had never really appreciated the true and profound impact the events of 9/11/01 had on the United States, and its generous, open-hearted people. The impact of that catastrophic event has echoed around the world, and into tiny Switzerland in ways I never realized until 9.11.2015.
Mattia Bütikofer is turner4D’s visiting fellow from Switzerland. He is studying media studies and communication science at the University of Zurich.