On September 11, 2001, our nation was attacked. We must not forget that the war that was initiated against us that day is still going on—the same people hate us and want us dead. Let’s be sure future generations remember.
On that day, and I remember it well, 19 radical Islamists associated with al-Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against targets in America. Two of the planes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York, a third hit the Pentagon, and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Almost 3,000 people were killed.
On September 11, 2001, at 8:45 am on a clear Tuesday morning, an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.
The impact left a gaping, burning hole near the 80th floor of the 110-story skyscraper, instantly killing hundreds of people and trapping hundreds more in higher floors.
As the evacuation of the tower and its twin got underway, television cameras covered what initially appeared to be a freak accident. Then, 18 minutes after the first plane hit, United Airlines Flight 175 appeared out of the sky, turned sharply toward the World Trade Center and sliced into the south tower near the 60th floor. The collision caused a massive explosion that showered burning debris over surrounding buildings and onto the streets below.
It immediately became clear that America was under attack.
The attackers were Islamic terrorists from Saudi Arabia and several other Arab nations. Financed by the al-Qaeda terrorist organization of Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden, it was said they were acting in retaliation for America’s support of Israel, its involvement in the Persian Gulf War, and its continued military presence in the Middle East. Some of the terrorists had lived in the US for over a year and had taken flying lessons at American commercial flight schools. Others had slipped into the country in the months before September 11.
The terrorists easily smuggled box-cutters and knives through security at three East Coast airports and boarded four early-morning flights bound for California, chosen because the planes were loaded with fuel for the long transcontinental journey. Soon after takeoff, the terrorists commandeered the four planes and took the controls, transforming passenger jets into guided missiles.
As millions watched the events unfolding in New York, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the west side of the Pentagon at 9:45 am. The jet fuel caused a devastating inferno that led to the structural collapse of a portion of the giant concrete building, the headquarters of our Defense Department. All told, 125 military personnel and civilians were killed in the Pentagon, along with all 64 people aboard the airliner.
Less than 15 minutes after the terrorists struck the Pentagon, the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed in a massive cloud of dust and smoke.
The structural steel of the skyscraper, built to withstand winds in excess of 200 miles per hour and a large conventional fire, could not withstand the tremendous heat generated by the burning jet fuel. At 10:30 am, the north building of the twin towers collapsed. Only six people in the World Trade Center towers at the time of their collapse survived. Almost 10,000 others were treated for injuries, many severe.
Meanwhile, a fourth California-bound plane—United Flight 93—was hijacked about 40 minutes after leaving Newark Airport in New Jersey. Because the plane had been delayed in taking off, passengers on board learned of events in New York and Washington via cell phone. Knowing that the aircraft was not returning to an airport as the hijackers claimed, a group of passengers and flight attendants fought the four terrorists. The plane crashed in a rural field in western Pennsylvania at 10:10 am. All 44 people aboard were killed. Its intended target is not known, but theories include the White House and the US Capitol.
At the World Trade Center, 2,763 died after the two planes slammed into the twin 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.
At 9 pm, President George W. Bush delivered a televised address from the Oval Office, declaring, “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”
Given the many attacks these days on the steel President Bush referred to, that is the culture and history of our nation, we need to help the America-haters in our nation learn our strengths and join our culture—or, perhaps, go live elsewhere. This is the greatest nation on earth—and, yes, it’s quite imperfect. May God bless America.