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September 11th 2011: Ten Years Later
World Trade Center Before the Attacks
On September 11th 2001 the United States of America was brought to their knees in one single coordinated attack led and carried out by Al Qaeda. Four separate attacks on three different locations combined together to make the single most heinous attack on American soil in recent history. You could consider the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7th 1941 by Japanese forces the worst attack on American soil but Hawaii did not belong to America in 1941 and therefore was not American soil. However, it was a military base and the entire pacific fleet was virtually wiped out. December 7th 1941 as Franklin Delano Roosevelt said is “a date that will live in infamy.”
A lot of people see parallel similarities between the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the attacks on September 11th 2001. The attacks led the country into a long war; they motivated the American people with full patriotism for a length of time. They also caused two presidents to give an awe inspiring speech that motivated and inspired the American people. The similarities are going to have to end there though.
Full text and audio of George W. Bush 9/11 Address to a Joint Session of Congress (9/20/01)
- American Rhetoric: Franklin Delano Roosevelt - Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation (12-08-41)
Full Text and Audio MP3 Version of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor Address to the American People
If you step back further into time you will see many different terrorist attacks on American soil. Most of these attacks were quickly forgotten but a few remain remembered such as the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995; and the first world trade center bombing in 1993. Do you remember the DC sniper? You could consider that a terrorist act. However we are getting off subject here. Other acts of war that happened on American soil are more numerous than you may initially believe. The attack of Fort Sumter on April 12th 1861 by confederate forces sent the Union to war with the Confederates and started our American Civil War. By the way the Civil war is still the bloodiest war America has ever fought with over 600,000 American casualties. There was the attack on the Alamo which was an American outpost in 1836, however this battle or attack was not on American soil it was during the period when Texans were forging their new empire. Texas ended up winning the revolution against President Santa Anna and in 1845 the United States annexed Texas causing the Mexican government to go to war with the U.S because they believed the territory was still theirs.
Going further back there was the invasion of British forces in 1814 where they burned Washington D.C. and prior to that was many attacks against the settlers and the native Indians.
In order to avoid boring you with nonstop historical data we shall continue with the story of 9-11-01.
Lead up to the Attacks
One question that should and most likely has been asked is why. Why did this happen? The answer is really quite simple. It happened because the people who orchestrated this are fanatics. These people are like the bully’s at every school across America. They prey on the perceived weak. They look for openings in defenses and attack it. They do this to unravel leaders and send countries into chaos. They do these attacks in an attempt to bully the attacked into bending to their will.
In a statement by former Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in 2004, the attacks were motivated by a U.S support of Israel, the presence of U.S troops in Saudi Arabia, and sanctions against Iraq. These attacks were an attempt to sway the government of America to stop interfering with the Arab nations, in short.
First the terrorist had to formulate a plan to be able to successfully attack the U.S. Since hijacking airplanes had worked for them before in other countries this seemed like the best way to do it. Also the World Trade Center bombings of 1993 were unsuccessful because the placement of the bomb. This bomb just made a mess of things, no massive damage.
The terrorist cell strategically picked three sites to attack; they were the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the U.S. Capitol. Prior to the 9-11 attacks the World Trade Center was a beacon in the New York skyline. It was portrayed in many New York photographs and stories. Just like the Empire State Building was a couple of decades previous the World Trade Center was the pride of New York and a symbol of America.
The Statue of Liberty
Was the World Trade Center the target the whole time or was it a last minute plan adjustment. Perhaps they were aiming for the Statue of Liberty and decided last minute to fly into the World Trade Center. Nobody really knows the answer to that question though so we continue.
For obvious reasons the terrorists wanted to destroy the Pentagon, which is the strategy base for all military operations. Also just as obvious the U.S Capitol was targeted. If the terrorist cell could destroy these three targets they could then wreak havoc on America and hopefully they could persuade us to bend to their will.
In order for this to work effectively it had to have been planned for quite some time. I have no idea how long it would take a group of people to plan something like this but I could imagine weeks or months. Did the U.S government have foresight on this? I think they had intelligence that an attack was being planned but I also believe they had inconclusive evidence to support the intelligence on when and where so nothing could have been done to prevent it.
Once all plans were made such as how to take over an airplane and destroy the buildings—using a cross country jet that would be full of fuel leaving from the East Coast. Also using four different airplanes that would be taking off at the same or close to the same time, which could easily be acquired from a travel agent or online. Then they would have synchronized the attacks with the 19 total terrorists with when, where, and how.
Cry Havoc and Let Slip The Dogs of War!!
Now that the terrorist had their plan of action in place it was time to commence with the attack. We already know the attackers were members of Al Qaeda operating independently yet in coordination with Osama bin Laden. There were a total of 19 members that participated in the attacks, all of whom perished in the attacks.
The first thing they had to do was to get onboard the airplanes that were planned and met their criteria, they must have left the airport within a few minutes of each other and they must have been flying to the west coast. The airplanes they chose were: American Airlines flight 11 from Boston, Massachusetts to Los Angeles, California; United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston, Massachusetts to Los Angeles, California. These were the flights that were purposefully crashed into the World Trade Center complex. American Airlines flight 11 was crashed at 0846 into the World Trade Center’s North Tower. United Airlines flight 175 was crashed at 0903 into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. This second flight is the one people saw crashed on the T.V which for me made me realize what was happening was real.
2nd Plane Hits the World Trade Center
The Rest of the Attack
American Airlines Flight 77 from Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia to Los Angeles, California was crashed into the western side of the Pentagon at 0937. Lastly, United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark, New Jersey to San Francisco, California was crashed in an empty field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania thanks to the heroism of the passengers aboard the flight. Had those heroes not taken action the U.S. Capitol would have been the third attack site. The plane stopped recording at 10:03 which to me indicates that is when it crashed, however news agencies placed the time of the crash at 10:06. You decide which time you want to believe.
The attack in the field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania claimed the lives of 44 people four of which were the hijackers. The attack at the Pentagon claimed the lives of 189 people, 64 from the flight which includes the five hijackers and 125 at the Pentagon. The two planes that crashed into the World Trade Center caused the most deaths with 2,753. After the impact by the airplanes the towers came down. The south tower came down 56 minutes after the plane crashed into it and the north tower came down 102 minutes after the plane crashed into it. When the towers came down it caused damage to the rest of the complex causing it to lose structural integrity which is why the other tower came down at 5:21 PM.
In the midst of this heinous and unprovoked act we found a mountain of courage and heroism. We joined together to help others and save lives. First the passengers aboard flight 93 that saved the U.S. Capitol from being flown into are true patriots. They learned of the other three attacks and being proud Americans they took action is the face of great personal adversity and knowing they faced death. I believe these people knew of their fate and paid the ultimate price to protect the potential victims at the final target. On that day those people defeated terror with courage and conviction. We often times see heroes portrayed as men and women in uniform and they rightfully deserve that honor, however we often forget about the average citizen that goes out of their way to stop evil. A great man once said, “All evil needs to succeed, is for good people to do nothing.”
Let’s start with the two less talked about crashes, the crash in the field, and the crash at the Pentagon. Since we’ve already discussed the heroism of the citizens that stood up to terror and spat right into its proverbial face, let’s talk about the aftermath of it. When the plane crashed at 10:03 or 10:06, which ever you choose to believe in, the first responders were on the scene sometime after 10:06 and that is where the data runs out.
The flight that crashed into the Pentagon happened at 0937 and immediately after the crash military and civilian employees rushed to respond to the crash and all of the survivors survived because of this action. The Arlington County Fire Department fire fighters arrived on scene within minutes and took command of the scene and they continued to save lives. The ACFD led the rescue operation over multiple agencies successfully within the hour. At 10:10 the portion of the Pentagon that was hit collapsed. There was plenty of time for all personnel on the fourth and fifth floors to evacuate before the collapse due to the rapid response of the civilians and military that responded as well as the continued efforts of the fire departments that responded.
Rescue at the World Trade Centers
Now we will discuss the two plane crashes into the World Trade Center complex. Even before the dust settled from the crashes the New York Fire Department (NYFD) the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Port Authority had emergency response teams deployed to the area. Initially the departments couldn’t communicate with each other and were performing searches for survivors and everyone else in order to evacuate the towers. Time goes by quickly in situations like these and before they knew it the police helicopter in the air noticed a deterioration of the situation. Mainly, the towers were going to collapse. They sent word to the police chief in charge and subsequently got word out to the police in the area to evacuate. The Fire Department didn’t get the message and became trapped when the towers came crashing down.
After the towers came down the rescue workers were working around the clock to find any survivors and evacuate them. Many were never found.
Across the country police and fire fighters took leaves of absence to go to the scene and help out any way they could. Blood drives skyrocketed and the amount of blood collected was at an all time high. All flights in and around the United States were either grounded or redirected.
Through The Trees
Flying the American Flag
What comes to your mind when I say September 11th 2001? Is it the smoking towers, a fire fighter, or is it the flying of American flags by virtually everyone in the United States. I’m from the west coast and was there driving to work when I heard over the radio of the attacks. The very next day, out of 100 cars I saw on the road 80 of them had flags flying from the window.
For months rescue crews scoured ground zero for survivors, in the process they worked on cleaning up the mess. People worked together towards a common goal without complaint or criticism to their fellow people. The national anthem rang out across America loudly and proudly. I had never seen so much pride and patriotism in all my years as I did the first year after the attacks.
People skinned trees to make a flag pole in order to fly a flag. Many people jumped at the recruiting stations in order to get a chance to fight the terrorists. Immediately after the attacks America went into Afghanistan to roust out the Taliban. In October 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom commenced. The objective of our attack on Afghanistan was to get at Osama Bin Laden. In March of 2003 we entered into war with Iraq. We did all this under the umbrella of the Global War on Terrorism. The goal of the War on Terror is to find, stop, and destroy all terrorism in the world.
Moments of silence spread out across the nation and in looking back it reminds me of the power the American people have. In November of 2002 I joined the military for the same reasons many others have.
Ten years later
Now it is ten years after the attacks on America. The wars are still waging but it seems to me like they are America’s forgotten wars. In May of 2011 U.S special forces found and killed Osama bin Laden. The war in Iraq is ending and talks are happening to end the war in Afghanistan.
At the base of the World Trade Center a memorial is being placed. The planned dedication ceremony is scheduled for September 11th 2011. Memorials have been placed at the Pentagon and at the field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
National World Trade Center Memorial and Museum
The most important thing here is to not forget what happened, or why it happened. It is doubly important to remember the way we were when this happened. The way we all pulled together to do our part and help in any way we could. These are the lessons we should pass on to our children.
Some Soldiers I have now were merely 9 years old when this heinous attack happened. They need not forget either how strong we are. My oldest daughter was two years old and my youngest daughter wasn’t even born yet. They know about September 11th and what happened. Some of my greatest memories are listening to the stories of December 7th 1941.
Some discouraging events in recent memory are rumors flying around that our government had something to do with the attacks. It is purported that the government had a hand in these attacks so we could go to war with Afghanistan and Iraq in order to get their oil. It is a terrible shame that these people are so dumb to believe that, and that our unity was so short lived. If you believe the government had something to do with the September 11th attacks you should just slap yourself until you wake up from your delirium.
Another tragic event I heard of was that a group of atheists are suing the memorial foundation over a piece of T joints that was found inside the wreckage of the World Trade Center. The joints are being placed as a cross as a"symbol of spiritual comfort for the thousands of recovery workers who toiled at ground zero," as well as an "authentic physical reminder” that "tell[s] the story of 9/11 in a way nothing else can." Quoted from ABCNews online.
In conclusion I hope you enjoyed reading about the tragic events of September 11th 2001 and received the message I was trying to portray. That message is of hope and the patriotism we are all capable of as witnessed by myself. I also want to reemphasize how important it is to keep your children and grandchildren informed of our dark past. Thank you for reading.
© 2011 by Wesley Cox. All rights reserved. Copying without permission is illegal and will be prosecuted.