On this day in history, September 11, 2001, US experiences the worst terrorist attack in American history
On this tragic day in history, Sept. 11, 2001, Americans and the entire world watched as two airplanes slammed into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York City while a third plane crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
The Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan collapsed a short time later.
Passengers on board a fourth airplane, Flight 93, averted additional destruction by trying to regain control of their plane from the hijackers.
Due to this intervention, the hijackers downed the aircraft in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Flight 93’s intended target was likely either the White House or the United States Capitol, according to the George W. Bush Presidential Library.
Terrorists linked to the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda — founded by Osama bin Laden — carried out the terrorist attacks, noted multiple sources.
At the World Trade Center, 2,763 people died after the two planes slammed into the towers.
That figure includes 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority police officers, who were struggling to complete an evacuation of the buildings and save the office workers trapped on higher floors, according to History.com.
At the Pentagon, 189 people were killed, including 64 on board American Airlines Flight 77, the airliner that struck the building.
On Flight 93, 44 people died when the plane crash-landed in Pennsylvania, the same source indicated.
The attacks on the World Trade Center towers resulted in the largest concentrated emergency-service response in American history, according to New York Magazine.
At least 100 EMS units and dozens of private ambulances raced to the site, setting up triage centers from which to transport the wounded to hospitals, the same source recounted.
“More than 2,000 NYPD and Port Authority police officers secured the area, searched the towers, and rescued survivors. But the response was, first and foremost, a Fire Department operation,” said New York Magazine.
The September 11th response involved in excess of 214 FDNY units — 112 engines, 58 ladder trucks, five rescue companies, seven squad companies, four Marine units, dozens of chiefs, and numerous command, communication and support units, the same source added.
On the evening of Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush addressed the nation from the Oval Office in a speech that explained a key doctrine of his administration’s future foreign policy: “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them,” President Bush said on that date.
Three days later, on Sept. 14, President Bush visited Ground Zero, the smoking pile of debris of what remained of the World Trade Center and the thousands who had perished there, Britannica.com noted.
Standing atop a fire truck, President Bush used a bullhorn to address rescue workers who were toiling to find survivors.
When one of the workers said that he could not hear what the president was saying, President Bush exclaimed, “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear from all of us soon.”
Subsequently, Operation Enduring Freedom, the American-led international effort to oust the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and destroy Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network, began on Oct. 7, 2001, according to History.com.
“Within two months, U.S. forces had effectively removed the Taliban from operational power, but the war continued, as U.S. and coalition forces attempted to defeat a Taliban insurgency campaign based in neighboring Pakistan,” the same source stated.
The Office of Homeland Security was founded on Oct. 8, 2001, less than one month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Now a cabinet department, Homeland Security is charged with preventing terror attacks, as well as handling border security, immigrations and customs, disaster relief and prevention and other related tasks, stated History.com.
Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the terror attacks, remained at large until May 2, 2011, when he was finally tracked down and killed by U.S. forces in a hideout in Pakistan.
The site of the Twin Towers is now a 9/11 Memorial.
Located on eight acres of the 16-acre World Trade Center complex, the 9/11 Memorial is a place of remembrance and contemplation, according to 911memorial.org.
The 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City is the country’s principal institution to honor the memories of the victims, preserve the history and explore the complex impact of both 9/11 and the World Trade Center bombing of Feb. 26, 1993, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies.
The museum’s 110,000-square foot space features artifacts, images and interactive displays that document and explore the attacks from multiple perspectives, while its permanent collection forms a unique and important repository of material evidence and primary testimony, the same source cited.
On the 22nd anniversary of 9/11 — Sept. 11, 2023 — there will be ceremonies in Lower Manhattan, at the Pentagon and at the crash site of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.
There are also hundreds of events planned across the United States to mark the devastating milestone in American history and to remember all those lost.