The terrorist attacks on changed American security especially
on airplanes. On September 11, 2001, nineteen militants, associated with
Al-Qaeda hijacked four airplanes. Three of the airplanes were successful in
carrying out their suicide mission. The World Trade Center Twin Towers were
both hit by a hijacked plane. Another plane flew into the Pentagon. The fourth
plane crashed, not completing its unknown terrorist mission.
11, 2001, it was a picture perfect fall morning. The sky was a bright blue,
sunny sky with a cool, refreshing temperature. Everyone was going about their morning
business until 8:45 a.m. The downtown area was rocked. Many thought an
explosion had happened in the upper levels of the World Trade Center. This
building had been attacked by terrorist previously, so everyone knew something
bad had happened, just not sure exactly what. What most did not know was that a
Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel hit the north tower of the
World Trade Center in New York City. There was a gaping hole in the side of the
building where the plane hit the tower. The impact had taken place at about the
80th floor of the 110 story skyscraper. Instantly hundreds of people
were killed with thousands of more trapped on higher floors. With no way out,
some people choose to jump from the windows instead of being killed by the
started to evacuate the tower by the stairways which made it very crowded and
difficult to get out. It also was very hard for first responders to get in. People
in the second tower also started to evacuate just for safety due to the
proximity of the buildings.
onlookers stood there on the streets watching in terror, uncertain of what was
happening. Then at 9:03 a.m., with everyone looking up at the massive fire in
the first tower witnessed the next attack. The second hijacked plane appeared
out of the sky. It turned abruptly and slammed into the 60th floor of the second
tower. No longer did people think the first attack was an accident. It became
abundantly clear after the second plane hit the south tower that the United
States of America was under attack.
second plane hit so low at the 60th floor, it left even more people
stranded. The first responders tried to save as many as they could, by using
any open stair well to get up and getting them outside. But after a while the
fire became too intense as it was feeding off the fuel of the airplane. The
jets carried enough fuel to go form New York to Los Angeles. There is strong
reason to believe the hijackers chose specific flights whose destinations were
far off so the jets, when hijacked would have plenty of fuel. This would make
the fires burn longer and hotter.
of the airplanes crashing into the towers caused an explosion so massive that surrounding
buildings and streets that were a good distance from the crash were showered
with debris. Nobody was safe and many people injured by the chucks of metal and
glass as it fell from above.
the world was now fixed on the chaos and horror that was happening in New York
City. No one was expecting other parts of the country to be under attack as
well. Flight 77 was up in the sky being hijacked along with the 64 passengers.
The terrorist aboard the plane took control of the plane and had their sites
set on the Pentagon. The plane crashed into the west wing of the Pentagon, the
U.S. military headquarters at 9:45 a.m. This attack created a devastating
inferno that led to the structural collapse of a great portion of the giant
concrete building. One hundred twenty-five military personnel and civilians
were killed in the attack on the Pentagon.
To add to the horror of the Pentagon
attack, attention was drawn back to New York City. The south tower which seemed
invincible, built to withstand hurricanes and column of steel to outlast fires,
proved it was vulnerable. It succumbed to intense heat of the fire and
collapsed in a huge cloud of dust and smoke. No architect had ever considered building
a skyscraper that would have to withstand the impact of a plane or a fire
fueled by jet fuel. The main support beams were melted. When they gave way, the
remaining supports could not support the weight of this massive building.
people were at the base of this massive tower. The onlookers were in disbelief
and watched in horror as the towers burned. As the over one hundred stories
came falling back to earth in a matter of seconds the onlookers were in
immediate danger. They turned and ran for their life. Suffocating clouds of
smoke dust and debris chased down all the streets and alleys, covering
everything in ashes and shrapnel. The attack in the air now came to ground
level and put all people in danger.
seemed like something from an imagined Armageddon and it wasn’t over yet. The
North tower was still standing but its collapse was looming over the city. At 10:30
a.m., the north building of the twin towers collapsed. Out of the hundreds of
people in the North tower at the time of the attack, only six people survived. There
were numerous injuries, over 10,000, resulting from the attack and the equally
as dangerous collapse.
imagine anything else could happen, but the horror continued. There was a
plane, United flight 93, that was destined for California, departing from New
Jersey. Only 40 minutes into the flight, it was also hijacked. The plane had
initially been delayed as result of the events in New York City. After
confirming terrorist were the ones responsible for the mass chaos and evil, all
planes were ordered to land at the nearest airport. Through phone calls to
friends and family members, the passengers were learning of the events taking
place in New York and at the Pentagon. The passengers knew that their plane
should also be landing, but realized it was not, the pilot was disobeying the
federal orders to land. This is when they realized their plane was also
hijacked. No one knows where this plane was headed with the terrorists at the
controls. All the passengers knew was that this plane had to be taken down, no
matter the cost. Three passengers stormed the cockpit and over powered the
hijackers and crashed the plan in a corn field.
selfless act of heroism ended at 10:10 a.m. in a small field near Shanks Ville in
western Pennsylvania. Everyone aboard the plane, forty-four passengers, were
killed on impact. The plane hit the ground traveling upwards of 500 miles per
hour. The acts of the passengers, overcoming the plane saved countless others.
There is speculation that the plane could have been headed for the U.S.
Capitol, the Presidential retreat called Camp David in Maryland or one of the
nuclear power plants that line the East Coast.
On this day
many families and civilians were affected by the terrorist attacks that
happened that day. It is a day that will never be forgotten and should never be