Like the Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor attack, or the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Sept. 11, 2001, is a day and an event we will never forget. All three events took us by surprise, all three a national tragedy.
Terrorists hijacked four commercial jets and struck the World Trade Center, Pentagon and were aiming at the Capital Building, but that attempt was foiled by courageous passengers on Flight 93, heroes, all of them, who’s lives ended in a Pennsylvania field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
At 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the upper floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, followed by a second strike at 9:03 a.m., when United’s Flight 175 hit the South Tower.
In my mind, maybe because I watched the video over and over, I can still see the planes crashing into the towers. I can hear the whine of the engines.
Then, when many thought the attack was over, another report came in, this time of a jet, Flight 77, struck the western face of the Pentagon. Minutes later the Federal Aviation Administration took the unprecedented step of grounding all flights across the United States – some 3,000-plus commercial planes were given directions to various airports over the next few hours.
The Capitol Building was evacuated, as were many other large, tall buildings in major cities. Around 10 a.m., Flight 93 passengers became aware of what was happening on other flights, took a vote and decided to try and storm the aircraft’s cabin. Accounts say the plane rolled over and hit the ground at 560 miles per hour, strewing debris for over a mile outside of Shanksville.
Soon, both Towers imploded and came tumbling down, making the event seem even more unbelievable.
U.S. Forces were put on high alert, including putting multiple aircraft in the skies and missile destroyers along the east coast.
That evening, President George W. Bush addressed the nation, calling the attacks evil and pledging to win the war on terror.
A staggering 2,823 people were killed that day. Rescuers spent over 200 days searching the huge piles of rubble for victims. Just last month a news report told of another person’s remains being identified.
Seventeen years later it’s still shocking to see the footage of the falling bodies, the towers collapsing, the thick clouds of dust chasing people down New York City streets and the firefighters and civilians in tears, covered in that dust.
Some families are still without closure, waiting, hoping that some remains of their loved one will be identified.
Hopefully this morning you will take a moment to remember those who died, those who lost their loved ones, and those who are still in pain today as they replay that tragic September morning.