This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the attacks perpetrated on 9/11, the day America was forever changed. As America reminisces on the catastrophe of September 11, when innocent lives were recklessly taken, a battle remains to keep America safe from future terrorist attacks.
On September 11, 2001, four large commercial airliners were hijacked by terrorist groups targeting America. Two of the planes were flown into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. The first plane struck a tower at approximately at 8:45 am (EST) and the second plane at 9:03 am. The third plane was flown into the Pentagon in Washington D.C, the heart of the nation’s military defense coordination center. The airliner penetrated multiple layers of the uniquely-shaped Pentagon, causing jet fuel to burn so hot that it was virtually impossible for firefighters to extinguish. It also made any rescue attempts extremely difficult. Employees of the Pentagon were trying to smash out windows of burning offices where they were trapped, but due to recent security upgrades, the windows were made of blast-resistant materials. The upgraded security windows were designed to shield against any outside blast-type attacks, but the unintended consequence was that it now trapped people in the inferno. One of the main fire trucks stationed on site was burned so badly in the initial fire that it was completely immovable and unable to respond.
A fourth commercial airliner was believed to be headed to the White House or other significant site in D.C., however, the bravery and ultimate sacrifice of the passengers aboard ensured this was not going to happen. The events that took place aboard Flight 93 have been well-documented over the years in news articles and even a motion picture, but each person’s bravery goes far beyond any accolades. They made the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of others. In the rural hills of Pennsylvania where the flight crash landed, there is a grass field and a modest memorial which serves tribute to each of the passengers.
The attacks on September 11, 2001, killed roughly 3,000 innocent lives and over 400 first responders. At the time of the attack, Andrew Card, the Chief of Staff for President George W. Bush, said, “That day changed us all. It changed America and it changed the world.” Every year a ceremony is held at ground zero for the lives that were lost on that dreadful day. President Obama gave a speech at the 9/11 memorial service stating, “Well, we have seen the answer in a generation of Americans. Our men and women in uniform, diplomats, intelligence, homeland security and law enforcement professionals. All who have stepped forward to serve and who have risked and given their lives to help keep us safe.” We continue to honor the first responders who sacrificed their lives for innocent people. September 11 will never be forgotten.
By: Carsyn Arvan