A day to remember: 9/11


Killian Johnson

On each anniversary New York City displays two beaming lights representing the twin towers to pay respect to those who lost their lives and celebrate the spirit of NYC

Sydney Burleyson and Sarah Holzman

2,996 people lost their lives on September 11, 2001, due to the hijacking of four planes by 19 suicide hijackers from the Islamic terrorist group Al Qaeda. Groups of men smuggled box cutters, ropes, and other weapons of destruction through airport security and proceeded to take complete control over four commercial airplanes.  

Each year we continue to mourn the tragedy of 9/11 and pay our respects to the thousands of lives lost. Taking a few moments of silence, talking about a personal experience with 9/11, or singing the national anthem a little louder at a sporting event will allow people to feel the effects of the day that changed America forever 21 years later. 

The United States has not been the same following this tragedy, yet there is an entire generation of people who were not alive when it happened. They live with the aftermath, but they did not experience the grief. We have to be able to feel the gravity of what happened. Thousands of people lost their lives, people they loved and their sense of safety and normalcy. As the years go on, it is becoming more clear that people are becoming less empathetic and sensitive. That needs to change. An event so heart-wrenching that it changed systems that were in place for decades, such as traveling policies, should never be the punchline of a joke or just another part of American history- it should be stored in our hearts so that our country can heal as those who passed away never got the chance to.

What seemed to be a freak accident at 8:45 a.m in New York City turned out to be the beginning of one of the deadliest events on American soil. A Boeing 767 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. 18 minutes later, another 767 crashed into the South Tower, causing citizens to believe this was more than an accident. As the towers got hit, occupants of the towers felt the immediate effects from all 110 levels. 2,753 people lost their lives in the Twin towers and the area surrounding it. 

Shortly after the events in New York, another crash took Americans by surprise. Flight 77 crashed into the west side of the Pentagon Military Headquarters in Washington D.C. 125 military members and citizens lost their lives in the crash at the  Pentagon along with 64 passengers from Flight 77.

Flight 93 took a different turn than what the hijackers had planned. The plane was intended to hit the nation’s capital, but 40 brave passengers fought off the hijackers and ultimately changed the trajectory of the plane. Despite the loss of all 44 passengers on Flight 93, many lives were saved due to the bravery of the passengers on board. 

The events of 9/11 were carried out by Al Qaeda an international terrorist group that used violence to oppose non-Islamic Governments. Their main goal was to drive the United States armed forces out of Saudi Arabia. Men part of the 9/11 attacks lived in the United States for a year taking commercial flight school in preparation for the hijack.  

Rescue operations began immediately after the destruction, with troops of firefighters, emergency medical services and police officers rushing in to help trapped people and passersby with serious injuries. Over 400 police officers and firefighters lost their lives that day due to the dangerous rescue operation conditions. 

Former President Bush was informed of the attack on America while he was with a second-grade class in an elementary school in Florida. He stayed until the end of the lesson he attended, then jumped into action. In his address to the country, which aired 12 hours after the attacks, Bush assured that, although the attacks “shatter[ed] steel,” they could not “dent the steel of American Resolve.” 

Following the attacks on Sept. 11, the public approved of Bush 35 to 40 percent more because people agreed with his decision to use military forces to fight against future attacks. With increasing numbers of people approving of the President’s actions, the country grew closer. However, on the other side of the coin, many communities were being wrongfully targeted. 

The presence of Islamophobia in the United States grew significantly following Sept. 11, 2001. In 2000, there were 28 reported hate crimes that were motivated by Islamophobic ideology. In 2001, that number increased to 481. 

This wrongful hate has not halted in the 21 years following 9/11. It has only developed a new face.  

In 2019, there were 176 incidents of anti-Muslim hate crimes. The rate of prejudice against Muslims in America is still higher than it was before 9/11. Along with this, the number of negative stereotypes portrayed in the media got worse. According to an article by Al Jazeera, the widely growing prejudice came to be due to a need for a common enemy following 9/11.

Generalizing an entire population of people based on one fraction of the community is not fair. How will America ever heal from 9/11, and prevent something like this from happening again, if our country is fueled by hate and prejudice?

The tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, is one that will never be forgotten. The lives that were lost will continue to live on. 

There will come a day, as there does with every foundational event, that the only people left to tell the story of millions are people who did not experience it themselves. If we are passed the stories of those before us, we must ensure that we are telling them the right way.