In remembrance of 9/11, this week’s post will be in dedication to the people who lost their lives and the people who lost not only people, but their sense of security.
9/11 is a date of infamy representing 19 hijackers (mainly from Saudi Arabia) taking control of 4 American flights, with the intent to crash them into high-target buildings to raise the death toll. Over 3,000 people died from the attacks, and another 1,000 has died over time from exposure to debris. Another 400 police officers and firefighter lost their lives attempting to save those from the attacks.
Here is a brief run-down of the events that took place September 11th, 2001. American Airlines Flight 11 was the first plane to crash, diving into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46am. At 9:03am United Airlines Flight 175 is flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. At 9:42 the FAA grounds all flights for the first time in history. 9:45am, the White House and U.S. Capital are evacuated for fear of further attack. American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37am, killing many in the flight and personnel in the Pentagon. 9:59am the South Tower collapses. Flight crew and passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 alert their family and grounds people that the plane has been hijack and subsequently try to gain control of the plane from the hijackers; the plane is deliberately crashed into a field in Pennsylvania at 10:07am. 10:28am the North Tower collapses. 8:30pm President Bush calls the events “acts of terror” and asked friends and allies to stand up against terrorism.
One of the heroes of that day was Lieutenant Heather Penney. She had just gotten back from a training mission, where dummy ammunition was still loaded in the planes- nothing was ready for an attack. Three planes had already crashed, and they knew there was a fourth, maybe more. The planes were ready to go but contained no weapons because they were needed immediately in the air to protect the airspace. Col. Marc Sasseville grabbed Penney and they loaded their fighter jets up, no weapons, ready to do any and everything to take down the last plane. They were preparing to crash their jets into the cockpit and tail and were hoping to have the right timing to use their ejector seat. But their first priority was getting the plane down no matter what. They didn’t know it at the time but Flight 93 had already been taken down by passengers and crew members who realized the death toll would be greater if they didn’t crash it into the field. Lieutenant Penney’s father is also fighter pilot and actually had been flying routes with United Airlines. She had no way of knowing whether or not the plane she prepared to take down was captained by her father.
The fourth plane of the plot was Flight 93, which crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, but was supposed to fly to San Francisco. Flight 93 contained seven crew members, 33 passengers, and four hijackers. At 9:19am , the pilots learned of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Roughly 9 minutes later, the hijackers had successfully infiltrated the cockpit. Passengers and crew were able to make phone calls to family members and officials on the ground to make them aware of what would be the final hijacking. The passengers voted to fight back against the hijackers after learning of the three other hijackings and subsequent attacks. People on the ground were alerted of their plan. One passenger reported o his wife over the phone “I know we’re all going to die. There’s three of us who are going to do something about it. I love you, honey.” While people were on the phones, another passenger was heard saying “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll,” as they prepared to make their move to overpower the hijackers. At 9:57am the passengers and crew began their counter attack on the hijackers. The hijackers decided to crash the plane before it could reach its destination because they feared the passengers and crew would be able to break through the cockpit. They downed the plane at 580 miles per hour in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The final target of Flight 93 was not 100% known, though the likely targets were the White House, U.S. Capital, Camp David (a presidential retreat) or a nuclear power plant along the east coast. Eventually a U.S. prisoner with ties to Al Qaeda and the terrorists involved in the 9/11 attack told U.S. officials that the target of Flight 93 was the White House.
Other heroes from that day include the countless firefighters and policemen who responded to the attacks and put their own lives at risk. More than 214 New York Fire Department units (“112 engines, 58 ladder trucks, five rescue companies, seven squad companies, four marine units, dozens of chiefs, and numerous command, communication, and support units”) were involved in the rescue missions at the World Trade Center. The fire department led the efforts, which also included over 2,000 New York Police Department and port Authority officers. Off-duty officers and entire companies dispatched themselves to the scene without being called there to offer aid in the efforts. 414 first responders were killed on September 11th, 2,000 first responders were injured, and 60,000–70,000 first responders were exposed to hazardous debris. After their sacrifice for and dedication to the American people, these first responders and those on the scene are dying years later from cancer related to 9/11 (2,500 reported having cancer, with 863 cases of cancer certified as relating to their work on September 11th).
For pictures of the first responders and their efforts to save lives at the possible cost of their own, see here. For an account of the conditions at Ground Zero before the Towers collapsed, see here. For fast facts and statistics of 9/11, see here. To remember the victims: firefighters, law enforcement officers, Pentagon victims, Flight 93 victims, World Trade Center victims, Flight 11 victims, Flight 77 victims, Flight 175 victims.