On this day, 18 years ago, the World Trade Center (also known as the Twin Towers) was struck by two hijacked planes. Not only that, two other planes were hijacked: one striking the Pentagon and one crashing in a field in Pennsylvania. Roughly 2,996 people were killed that day.
September 11, 2001: Four planes took off from runways all headed to different locations, each one hijacked from members of Islamic terrorist group, Al-Qaeda. The first plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 AM. Individuals throughout the globe watched in horror of what had just occurred, thinking it was a fluke accident. However, that changed when the south tower was struck at 9:03 AM, exactly 18 minutes later. Now, the world knew that this was no accident.
At 9:45 AM, there was another strike, this time hitting the Pentagon. Soon after the news of the Pentagon, the south tower collapsed. At 10:30 AM, so did the north tower. While waiting to board their delayed plane, passengers aboard United Flight 73 were knowledgeable of the incidents happening in New York and Washington, D.C. When their plane was not landing like it was instructed to do so, the passengers knew their plane had too been hijacked. Although unable to stop from crashing, the passengers aboard stopped the hijackers from crashing into an unknown location, although theorized to be the White House or Camp David. This plane landed in an empty field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. All passengers aboard died.
Emergency workers and police officers were a major part of the rescue team. Many gave their lives trying to save others involved in this dreadful day. 343 firefighters and paramedics lost their lives, as well as 60 police officers. Due to these events, Homeland Security was created to ensure these attacks would cease. The war on terrorism began in October to stop Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Countless people were affected this day: citizens, emergency workers, family members, children, and more. Citizens were in shock, emergency workers were heroes, family members mourned, and children lost pieces of themselves that day.
Take a moment of silence today for those who died, who served, who saved, who lived. We must never forget September 11, 2001. We must never forget those innocently involved in this tragic act of terrorism.
At 8:46 AM today, Greer Middle College observed a moment of silence.
I had the chance to obtain the experiences of what that day was like from different people in my life. Below are their stories:
"I was a junior in high school. I had English IV first period and was going into the library right as the second plane hit the tower/immediately after. I passed my previous year's English teacher on the way in and had asked her what was going on. She told me a plane just crashed into the World Trade Towers. I laughed at her because it was so unthinkable that it would happen, It was still a funny thing to say. I went back to the classroom and told my teacher.She went to talk to another teacher at the door. We were all very worried. She told us she was going to keep teaching because there wasn't any news. None of us had cell phones that really worked. I didn't hear from my dad until after school. Eventually, the principal got on the intercom and told all teachers to turn on their TVs in their room, and if they did not have one to go to the library. We went to the library. It was an Honors English IV class, so some of the kids understood global politics. One student was talking to my teacher and said. 'This sounds like Osama Bin Laden.' I remember being amazed later that someone my age actually knew something I didn't about something really important. It changed my perspective about how smart I was and made me want to know more about the world. When I went home, I turned the TV on and watched the coverage. When my dad came home, I asked him if we should be worried and he said no, but he sounded worried. I remember a lot of people were worried because we lived near Charlotte, which at the time was the biggest banking center in the US."
"When I heard about the first plane hit, I feel very guilty about my first thought: That pilot is going to be in trouble. I thought he might of been drunk. I was on the phone with my husband when the second plane crashed. Even as a married lady with a family, I was scared because I didn't know what was happening. One of my first reactions and feelings was I wanted to talk to my mom. I didn't know if I wanted answers or comfort but it was very important I talk to her. My middle sister worked for Wachovia before it was Wells Fargo in Charlotte. They were all told to leave as a sense of security because of Charlotte being the banking center of the US. It was a feeling of panic, not knowing what was happening. I didn't think that they were going to attack Greenville, though. Everything was quiet. Throughout the day I was glued to the TV in disbelief, wanting to find out more. My other sister lived in Lexington, VA at that point. People in the area of Lexington were thinking they heard Air Force 1 fly by that evening. They were sitting out on their deck and there was a plane that flew by, although all planes were grounded. The fact that this catastrophic event could and did and had a huge impact, seeing the pictures of places I had been in NYC made it more personal. The patriotism, the country pulling together after that made me very proud."
"I was a Junior at Furman when it happened. My most standout memory of the day was I was in my first Greek class, which later became my major. My professor's watch stopped working the day beforehand and was using his cell phone as his clock. One of his friends called him roughly eight times in the span of the 15 minute class. The professor was very confused as to what was going on. The friend was wanting to know if the professor was watching the news. I got back to my dorm after the class and it was like a ghost town. It was silent, and it was weird. It was a freshman dorm, so it was usually pretty rowdy. But that day, everyone was glued to the television. I walked into a room and saw images of the planes flying into the towers. It was the first time I heard anything about it. The only other thing I remember was all of our classes were cancelled and we had to keep a close eye on those from New York. Communication was hard and they didn't know if their family members were there and safe."
Pam Peterson (a.k.a. my mom)
"I remember driving to work and it was my last day before going on vacation. I was pregnant with you. I remember the radio stations having nothing but news and I didn't listen to the news. I had an eerie drive to work. When I got to work, my coworkers and my boss were talking about the World Trade Center. I wasn't concerned at the time because, for some reason, I thought the World Trade Center was somewhere else in the world and not New York. It didn't take long for that clarification to be made. I instantly panicked because we had family in the city. I started asking a lot more questions about where different things and places were in relation to the World Trade Center to figure out if our family was close to it. Thankfully, our family was on the other side of the city. Then it simply became a matter of 'what happens next, how bad is it?' No one had seen how bad it was yet, we had only heard it on the news. By the time we had found a television somewhere near by, the second plane had crashed. At the time, we lived in New York about six to seven hours away from the city. I was still concerned because I didn't know where everybody worked. The rest of the day seemed to be a blur because of everything I needed to accomplish work-wise. I remember how I earned a different perspective that day heading to my other place of work. The skies were quiet and the radio was quiet, except for the news. It seemed like the world stopped. There wasn't a lot of traffic on the roads. It was just weird. I remember seeing a lot of firetrucks heading east towards the city as I drove west. When I got home, I learned all of our family was safe but obviously so many other lives were lost. We watched over and over the news about what was going on. It was tragic. There's no real way to describe the emotion. I was supposed to fly out the next day to come down to Charleston. All flights were cancelled. Anyone planning on travelling was out of luck for a while unless they found other means of transportation. I had to trade plane tickets for train tickets. The Amtrak station I went to wasn't far from Ground Zero, only three and a half miles away. It was three days after the incident and we ended up having three to four hour layover in the city. The streets were so quiet. You heard the occasional ambulance. The dust and 'fog' caused it to be dark. You could see, but when you looked up, you couldn't see the height of the buildings. It didn't smell bad or funny and it wasn't smokey, but it felt like you walked into a ghost town. It was only miles from Battery Park, and it wasn't supposed to be quiet. The train station was packed with people since people couldn't fly but had to still get to where they were going. I didn't walk around outside much because we didn't know how long we would be waiting for our next train. When you walk into the city that never sleeps, that was once alive, full of energy, always moving, and it's the middle of the day and the city's now a ghost town, it's very surreal. It was like a movie. I was 21 and I didn't pay much attention to politics or the news or the important things that go on in our society from day to day. That day, it didn't matter. It seemed to make everyone far more aware of the country that we live in."
Alisha Parker (a.k.a. Gracie Wilkerson's mom)
"I remember I was off that day from work. I woke up, turned on the TV, and saw smoke coming from the buildings. I didn't know what I was looking at at first, and by that time they were reporting the second hit. It was like the world stopped. To hear someone say 'terrorist' and 'plane attack'... I would have never thought it would happen here. To see the devastation on TV was unreal. For the first time, I felt unsafe living in our country. It also reminded me to be thankful for our first responders. My heart hurt for the families who lost loved ones. There were people searching for family members. They had signs with their family members picture asking 'have you seen me'?"
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Below are included pictures from the World Trade Center museum in New York City. Credit to Brianna Martin for the pictures.