Cities and towns across America show unity on the 9/11 anniversary
In a country with over 300 million people, there are bound to be some disagreements. Since the pandemic shutdown in March 2020, it seems the country has been more divided than ever. Protests, riots and a hurricane decimating the southern part of Louisiana seem to permeate the majority of the news headlines here recently.
However, even as a country divided, everybody seems to stop the hatred – even if only for one day – and remember the tragedies that occurred 19 years ago on September 11. Thousands of lives lost and even more lives were forever altered by the actions of a handful of terrorists.
At 5:45 a.m. on September 11, 2001, hijackers Mohamed Atta and Abdul Aziz al-Omari passed through security at Portland International Jetport in Maine. The security footage showed Atta and al-Omari board a commuter flight to Boston Logan International Airport. This is where they connect to American Airlines Flight 11. Three other hijackers joined Atta and al-Omari aboard Flight 11.
At 7:59 a.m., the doomed American Airlines Flight 11 departed from Boston with 11 crew members, 76 passengers, and the five hijackers on board. The plane was filled with over 70,000 pounds of jet fuel in preparation for its transcontinental flight to Los Angeles.
Just minutes into the flight, the terrorists unleashed chaos on the plane and its inhabitants. One terrorist stabbed a passenger seated directly in front of him, and the other terrorists deactivated the plane’s transponder – a device used by air traffic control to locate and monitor the plane’s flight path.
At 8:20 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 departed from Washington Dulles International Airport en route to Los Angeles. It had six crew members, 53 passengers, and five hijackers.
A mere four minutes later, hijacker Atta attempted to communicate with the passengers via the intercom system. However, Atta inadvertently pressed the wrong button and ended up broadcasting to air traffic control. This alerted officials on the ground the trouble that was brewing on the plane.
While panic and chaos was erupting on American Airlines Flight 11 and 77, United Airlines Flight 93 departs Newark International Airport with seven crew members, 33 passengers and four hijackers.
The events to follow altered the US as anybody knew it. At 8:46 a.m., the hijackers crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into floors 93 through 99 of 1 World Trade Center (North Tower). This action not only killed all people on board, and hundreds inside the building instantly, it also severed three of the emergency stairwells, subsequently trapping hundreds of people above floor 91.
After the initial attack, a Port Authority fire safety employee erroneously told people in the South Tower they did not need to worry.
“Your attention, please, ladies and gentlemen. Building Two is secure. There is no need to evacuate Building Two. If you are in the midst of evacuation, you may use the reentry doors and the elevators to return to your office. Repeat, Building Two is secure,” broadcasted the employee.
Unfortunately, just mere minutes after the broadcast, the employee would realize just how wrong the message was. At 9:03 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 crashed through floors 77 through 85 of 2 World Trade Center (South Tower). All of the 51 passengers, and nine crew members were killed in the crash, along with an unknown amount of people inside the tower. It also rendered two emergency stairwells unusable and snapping a large amount of the elevator cables; trapping many.
Before the smoke from either crash had a chance to clear, many witnesses watched in horror as people either jumped or fell to their deaths from the upper floors of the towers.
Remember the ill-fated American Airlines Flight 77? Unfortunately, the terrorists did not end up having a change of heart and let the plane make it to the original destination. At 9:37 a.m., the terrorists crashed the plane into the Pentagon, killing all passengers and crew members, and over 100 personnel in the Pentagon.
At 9:59 a.m., approximately an hour after the crash, the South Tower collapsed, killing more than 800 civilians and first responders.
A few moments later, passengers and crew members stormed the cockpit of the hijacked Flight 93, forcing the plane to crash in a field approximately 20 miles from what was believed as the destination for the terrorists; Washington DC. Unfortunately, all of the 33 passengers and seven crew members were killed.
At 10:28 a.m., the North Tower collapsed, killing over 1600 people.
Even though it more than likely felt like an eternity for the ones involved, the entire incident took just a few hours. That short time span altered the country in ways nobody could ever imagine. Almost 3,000 people perished, 19 hijackers committed murder and suicide, and over 6,000 were injured. This number does not include the families impacted who were left behind to pick up the pieces after tragically losing their loved ones.
Ironically, the news reporter forecasted that the morning of September 11, 2001 would be pleasant and beautiful. In a mere few hours, a beautiful morning turned into a country mourning.