TWO DECADES ON……..
It’s been nearly two decades since September 11, 2001, and just 60% of the people who died that day have been officially identified and returned to their loved ones.
For most of us, you don’t have to be an American to recall exactly where you were, and what you were doing, when you heard the news of the north tower explosion and the aftermath that was unfolding.
WORLD TRADE CENTER
On September 11, 2001, at 8.45am, the city of New York were waking up to a blue sky, clear atmosphere and generally a day that should be enjoyed by all. But for those on the ground near the World Trade Center, this day would haunt them for the rest of their lives.
They watched in horror as an ,American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with around 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crash into the north tower of the World Trade Center in down town New York City.
The impact left a huge hole near the 80th floor of the 110 story skyscraper, instantly killing hundreds of people not only in the floor it struck but those below, above and beyond. To those who felt the impact above, they were immediately given a death sentence trapping them, unable to descend to any of the lower floors.
As television cameras were quickly on site to broadcast live images of what initially was thought to be a freak accident, the evacuation of the tower got underway.
As emergency services dealt with the wounded coming out of the building, many others volunteers and servicemen began the long climb to the top of the building looking to assist survivors, not knowing they too were climbing to their death.
Then, just 18 minutes later after the first plane hit, a second Boeing 767 [United Airlines Flight 175] appeared as if from nowhere, and did a sharp turn towards the second tower. This second plane sliced into the south tower around the 60th floor.
The second explosion showered the streets below with debris, documents, furniture, office equipment and the like. This was no accident. It immediately became apparent that America was under attack.
As millions of people watched the events unfold world wide, an hour later, another flight American Airlines Flight 77, circled over Washington D.C., before it crashed into the west side of the Pentagon.
This part of the Pentagon was headquarters of the US Department of Defense. The Jet fuel from the crash exploded into a devastating inferno which caused the structural collapse of a portion of the concrete structure.
In total, 125 military personnel and civilians were killed in the Pentagon, along with the 64 people including the terrorists onboard the airliner.
It wouldn’t have been more than 15 minutes when back in New York, the South Tower of the World Trade Centre collapsed into a massive cloud of dust and smoke.
Structurally, the skyscraper was built to easily withstand winds in excess of 200 miles per hour, however, it wasn’t built to withstand the tremendous heat generated by the burning jet fuel. With heat and smoke unbearable, many trapped chose to take fate into their own hands, and jump to their death rather than burn to death or suffocate from heat, smoke and fumes.
At 10.30am, the same fate as the South Tower, struck the North Tower, crumbling to the ground. Only six people in the World Trade Center towers at the time of the collapse survived to tell the tale. Almost 10,000 others, many with severe injuries were being sped off to hospitals and treated onsite for injuries.
If three collisions weren’t enough for the country too deal with, a forth California bound plane ‘United flight 93’ with 44 people onboard, were just receiving news via cell phones and airline calls to the ground, about the hijacks due to a delay in take off.
Once it became apparent to all on board that they were also going to suffer the same fate, they took matters into their own hands, and decided to try and overpower the hijackers and take back control of the plane.
Many on board, used the plane phones and their own cell phones to contact loved ones and say their goodbyes.
It is believed that the passengers ran at the cockpit with a fire extinguisher. The plane then flipped over and sped towards the ground at around 500 miles per hour, crashing on a rural property near Shanksville in western Pennsylvania at 10.10am.
All 44 people on board Flight 93 were killed. It’s intended target was unknown, but many believe The White House could have been a target, along with several nuclear power plants and Camp David.
Some of the terrorists had spent a year or so living in the United States, taking flying lessons at an American Commercial Flight school. The “Muscle” of the operation, slipped into the country just months before, prepared to carry out the operation.
How the 19 terrorists were able to easily smuggle box-cutters and knives through security at three different airports still astounds most of us. It was shortly after take off, they commandeered the four planes, taking over the controls, transforming ordinary passenger jets into guided missiles.
The Citizens of 78 countries died that day. A total of 2,996 people killed including the hijackers.
Due to security concerns, the President at the time Mr George Bush who was in Florida at the time of the attacks, was being shuttled around the country until deemed safe enough to return to the White House.
In his televised address from the Oval Office at 9pm, the President said;-
“Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot shake the foundation of America”.
Osama Bin laden, the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks, remained at large until May 2, 2011 when he was finally tracked down and killed by Us Forces at a hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan. It would take another 10 or so years for the US forces to withdraw from Afghanistan for good.
In the aftermath of what would later be defined as “Ground Zero” thousands of first responders and people working and living in lower Manhattan were exposed to toxic fumes and particles.
In summary, 45% of the responders have aerodigestive illness (conditions that affect the airways and upper digestive tract). 16% have cancer and another 16% have mental health illness.
40% of these are aged between 45 – 64 and 83% of them are male.
An annual commemoration ceremony for the family members of 9/11 victims will gather at Memorial Plaza to read aloud the names of those killed in the 9/11 attacks. Throughout the ceremony, participants will observe six moments of silence and at sundown, the annual ‘Tribute in Light’ will once again illuminate the skies above Ground Zero as not only a reminder of what transpired that day and its aftermath, but it also signifies the strength and courage of the American People and how they come together in the face of adversity.