9/11 and the Art of Happiness by Simon Kennedy is a moving examination of survival and regrowth following a devastating tragedy. How do you forgive a terrorist for murder? How do you forgive anyone who commits a random act of deadly violence against a family member? How do you not give in to stereotypical racial and cultural responses against the offender and his community? And most importantly, how do you learn to be happy again?
Adam Hills, comedian and TV presenter, read 9/11 and the Art of Happiness in one sitting. He says, ‘This is so beautifully written, so heartfelt and, more than anything, it has so many important messages contained within it.’
Simon Kennedy’s mum Yvonne was one of 10 Australians to die during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the only one to die outside of New York, in the attack on the Pentagon. On 11 September 2001, she boarded flight AA77 to begin her return to Australia after completing a much-planned holiday of America. All passengers on board were killed during the attack on the Pentagon.
In his book, Simon Kennedy remembers his mum and reveals previously unheard details about the trauma family members endure in the aftermath of a global terrorist attack. Disbelief mingles briefly with false hope. Airline officials are in constant attention, offering cheques along with solace. Upgrades to fly business class are issued on a regular basis. FBI officials pay cordial visits and invitations constantly flow to official US memorial and anniversary services.
In discussing his mum’s death and the effect on his life, Simon said to Richard Fidler, ‘I think it really cemented my moral compass…..it made me think what do I believe in? I developed a real hatred of racism out of the experience.’
David Speers, political editor Sky News, says of 9/11 and the Art of Happiness, ‘There are few books that have genuinely made me cry and laugh out loud. This is one.’
The world moves on, but for Simon and other victims, the aftermath remains. Twelve years later there is not one hour of the day when Simon is not reminded, in some way, by the media, of the 9/11 attack. 9/11 and the Art of Happiness is not only his family story but a story of resilience, it is also a thoughtful reflection on the art of forgiveness and letting go of bitterness and hatred.
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Funnyman Simon Kennedy chats to 'Mornings' about how comedy helped him deal with the loss of his mum on 9/11.
Simon Kennedy chats to Margaret Throsby on Classic FM.
Broadcast 26 February 2014. Re-broadcast 12 September 2014
Simon Kennedy is the author of "9/11 and the Art of Happiness - An Australian Story" (2014). Simon's mother, Yvonne Kennedy, was the only Australian onboard American Airlines flight 77 which was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon in September 11 2001. In the book Simon writes about her death, their family, forgiveness and how those events have changed his life.