Remembering 9/11 on the 20th anniversary

Photo of the American flag courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

Jamie Blodgett | Contributing Writer

Twenty years later the world is reminded of a tragedy that left millions mourning the loss of 2,996 lives, and thousands more injured. On September 11, 2001, 19 militants connected to Al-Qaeda were responsible for hijacking four airplanes. The man behind this terrorist attack was later found to be Osama Bin Laden. 

Over the course of what would become a life-changing two hours, Al-Qaeda carried out four suicide-driven attacks. Beginning at 8:45 a.m. the North Tower of the World Trade Center was struck by an American Airlines plane that was loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel. The plane rammed into the 80th floor of the building. 

What began as a suspected freak accident quickly turned into an attack on our country. Live broadcasts picked up on another plane, a United Airlines Flight, hitting the South Tower’s 60th floor at 9:03 a.m., only 18 minutes after the first hit. 

The motive behind the 9/11 attacks was suspected to be from America’s support toward Israel, our involvement in the Persian Gulf War and our continued Middle-Eastern military presence. 

As millions were watching the attacks in New York City, another American Airlines Flight  began to circle over downtown Washington D.C. ahead of its crash into the west side of the Pentagon at 9:45 a.m.

The headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense collapsed after jet fuel sourced from the plane caused an inferno to give way to the building.One-hundred twenty-five individuals were killed in the Pentagon, as well as all 64 individuals aboard the plane.

The world seemed to stand still as people watched screens and listened to their radios hoping and praying for our country, and the safety of the first responders. Then, as the Earth seemingly was wrapped in smoke, the south tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m., followed by the fall of the north tower at 10:30 a.m. leaving nearly 10,000 injured. Only six individuals in the towers at the time of their collapses survived.

The Fourth plane was United Flight 93. This plane was hijacked nearly an hour into the flight after it left Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. Due to a delay in the flight, many passengers heard of the events taking place in Washington D.C. and New York City. Passengers came to the realization that they would not be returning to the ground alive. Many called their families to say their goodbyes before devising a plan to ground the flight before it would reach its intended target. 

After attacking four hijackers, the plane flipped over and crashed into a rural field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m. going upwards of 500 mph. All 44 passengers were killed on impact, protecting our country and saving many more lives. The intended target is unknown, but many suspect the U.S Capitol, the White House, the Camp David Presidential Retreat in Maryland or even one of several nuclear power plants in the eastern seaboard.

Three-hundred forty-three firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City police officers and 37 port authority police officers tragically lost their lives on September 11. Only 20 individuals were found alive within the rubble after the dust settled.

The time then came for then-President George W. Bush and the United States to fight back. All of which began at 7 p.m. that day when Bush returned to the White House. At 9 p.m. a televised address was given from the Oval Office.

On Oct. 7, 2001, a two-month-long operation began, called Operation Enduring Freedom. Enduring Freedom was an international effort led by America to destroy Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist network based in Afghanistan. 

Within two months, the Taliban was removed from power; however, it wasn’t until May 2, 2011, when Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. Forces in a hideout at Abbottabad, Pakistan. With the mission’s successful outcome then-President Barack Obama announced the beginning of large-scale troop withdrawals from Afghanistan that June.

Now, in 2021, as we look back on 20 years since this tragedy, we are reminded of the bravery that was seen within the first responders who stepped up in a time of deep uncertainty within our country. 

This year, five individuals connected with the 9/11 attacks are set to face trial, although the date has continuously been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Saturday, the 9/11 Memorial will hold moments of silence for the lives lost and changed on Sept. 11, 2001. 

“Six moments of silence mark the times when each of the World Trade Center towers was struck, when each tower fell and the times corresponding to the attack at the Pentagon, and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania,” according to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum website. 

If you would like to participate in the moments of silence here are the scheduled times along with their significance, taken from the Memorial’s website:

  • 8:46 a.m.: Hijackers deliberately crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into floors 93 through 99 of the North Tower.
  • 9:03 a.m.: Hijackers deliberately crashed United Airlines Flight 175 into floors 77 through 85 of the South Tower.
  • 9:37 a.m.: Hijackers deliberately crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon, near Washington, D.C.
  • 9:59 a.m.: The South Tower collapsed.
  • 10:03 a.m.: After learning of the other attacks, passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 launched a counterattack on hijackers aboard their plane to try to seize control of the aircraft. In response, the hijackers crashed the plane into an empty field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
  • 10:28 a.m.: The North Tower collapsed, leaving the 16-acre World Trade Center site in ruins and collateral damage affecting all adjacent properties and streets. The rescue effort commenced immediately.

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