9/11: A Day to Never Forget


       September 11, 2001 was a day that changed America. It could be said that no other time has the country united in such a compelling way around a single event. An event that would not only unfold to take the lives of nearly 3,000 fellow humans, but dramatically changed the nation’s foreign policy to cause the invasion of two sovereign states, crashed the global tourism and aerospace industries, and ultimately caused the restructuring of our nation’s homeland security system. 

       At exactly 8:46 A.M. on that perilous day, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. News broadcasts immediately turned to live coverage once the situation was made known. At the time nobody was exactly sure what was happening, with some minds likening it to a publicity stunt, but one thing was clear to the occupants of the building, impending disaster. Only seventeen minutes later on that same day, another explosion rocked lower Manhattan. United Airlines Flight 175 had now impacted the South Tower. By this point the truth had begun to set in, America was under attack, and the next target was still uncertain. 

       As events unfolded, two more attacks would take place. The first came at 9:37 when American Airlines Flight 77 was flown into the first floor of the Pentagon building, ultimately penetrating through three of its five layers. The second occurred when the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 bravely began to overtake the hijackers who caused the plane to nosedive into a field in rural Pennsylvania, resulting in all forty losing their lives. It is widely believed that the intended target of that flight was the Capitol Building. 

       The reactions to these four hijackings were immediate. At 9:42 A.M., the Federal Aviation Administration imposed the SCATANA plan for the first time in history, which in short grounded all civilian aircraft travel instantly and prevented any new planes from entering or leaving the country in an effort to combat any more possible planned hijackings. Areas of national security concern and importance were secured and vacated, such as all facilities of the Federal Government, skyscrapers in major American cities, public transportation, and even theme parks. Suspicion promptly fell on the radical Islamic terrorist group, al-Qaeda, and their leader, Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda had been previously held responsible for the 1998 foreign embassy bombings against American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. It is widely believed that their motive for the September 11th attacks was over American support for Israel in the Palestinian Conflict and troops situated in the Middle East since the Gulf War, although to this point everything is still just speculation. 

       Besides just the immediate aftermath, the long-term aftermath was even greater. The September 11th attacks resulted in what has been called “the largest restructuring of U.S. government since WW2”, and that assessment would be correct. In 2002, congress passed the Homeland Security Act, which created the Department of Homeland Security we know today, along with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The National Security Agency was also granted unlimited powers to spy on private citizens suspected of any type of crime, which would lead to the wiretapping scandals over a decade later. And perhaps most importantly from all of this, the United States invoked Article 5 of the N.A.T.O. charter and declared the War on Terrorism. This war would lead to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq to topple their government and dispose of al-Qaeda leadership residing there. It is estimated over one million civilians have died from these invasions. 

       This year, on the twenty-first anniversary of September 11th, we are given a chance to reflect on the 2,996 brave souls that died as a result of that day, among them many heroic figures that sacrificed their own lives so that others may live, including the 420 first responders that selflessly worked to save others until the last minute. May God bless them, and all those affected by Islamic terrorism, whether they be in this country or elsewhere.