Ten years have passed since Americans felt the impact of terrorism in a way never experienced before. Most of us can recall where we were and what we were doing that Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001.
I had called the mechanic about the progress being made on our car, when he told me to turn on the television and it would stay on the rest of the day. Little did I know how many Americans would lose their lives that day at the hand of terrorists.
Five Hijackers Board Flight 11
The day started in Boston with Mohamed Atta and al-Omari boarding American Airlines Flight 11 at 7:35 AM travelling from Boston to Los Angeles. Five minutes later three more hijackers board the plane. The flight leaves Logan International Airport at 7:59 AM. The first evidence of a hijacking being in progress, was when orders to climb to 35,000 feet were ignored.
Betty Ong, a flight attendant on Flight 11 informs American Airlines that a hijacking is in progress at 8:19 AM. At 8:26 Flight 11 makes a 100 degree turn and is now travelling on a path to New York City.
Three More Planes Boarded By Hijackers
While Flight 11 was en route to New York City, hijackers boarded three more planes. United Airlines Flight 175 departs from Boston and is also originally headed for Los Angeles leaving at 8:14 AM with five hijackers aboard the flight. Six minutes later a third plane, American Airlines Flight 77 would leave Dulles International Airport in Washington for Los Angeles at 8:20 AM with five hijackers aboard.
At 8:42 AM the fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93 would depart from Newark International Airport with a original destination of San Francisco, with four hijackers aboard.
Flight 11 Hits North Tower
Two F-15’s were scrambled from Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts to intercept Flight 11, but seconds later at 8:46 the plane hit the north tower at 446 MPH and loaded with fuel since it was headed to Los Angeles.
The impact of the plane and the burning fuel knocked three stairwells out, leaving those in the floors above hopelessly trapped with no way out.
As many as 250 or as few as 100 people jumped to their deaths, rather than being caught in the fiery inferno inside the burning building.
CNN is the first national network to break the story on the plane hitting the World Trade Center at 8:49 AM. Carol Lin the CNN anchor made this announcement:
This just in. You are looking at obviously a very disturbing live shot there. That is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. CNN Centerright now is just beginning to work on this story, obviously calling our sources and trying to figure out exactly what happened, but clearly something relatively devastating happening this morning there on the south end of the island of Manhattan. That is once again, a picture of one of the towers of the World Trade Center.
President Bush is appraised of the situation while visiting Emma E. Booker Elementary School, in Sarasota, Florida at 8:55 AM. This was before the second tower had been hit. He was probably told of the other flights still in the air that were being hijacked. However, presidential advisor Karl Rove told the president that the airplane was a small twin engine aircraft.
Calls like this which was made at 9:00 AM would be one of many, made by passengers to their loved ones that day:
9:00: Lee Hanson receives a second call from his son Peter, aboard Flight 175: “It’s getting bad, Dad. A stewardess was stabbed. They seem to have knives and Mace. They said they have a bomb. It’s getting very bad on the plane. Passengers are throwing up and getting sick. The plane is making jerky movements. I don’t think the pilot is flying the plane. I think we are going down. I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building. Don’t worry, Dad. If it happens, it’ll be very fast. My God, my God.” The call ends abruptly, as Lee Hanson hears a woman scream.
At 9:02 Flight 175 hits the south tower at a speed of 590 miles per hour. The plane’s impact caused parts of the plane to fall to the ground, as many as six blocks away.
The president enters a classroom to read The Pet Goat, when Chief of Staff, Andrew Card informs him of a second building being hit at 9:05.
Osama bin Laden is mentioned as a probable suspect in a CBS News report at 9:17 AM. At 9:26 AM all civilian planes are forbidden to take off by the FAA.
Hijackers Take Over Flight 93
Flight controllers in Cleveland hear the Flight 93 cockpit being taken over by hijackers at 9:28. The tower supervisor at Reagan International Airport discloses to the Secret Service at the White House that a plane is heading their way and is not talking to the tower at 9:33 AM. A minute later the tower would call the Secret Service again, to inform them that the plane was now headed to the airport.
At 9:37 AM Flight 77 crashes into the western side of the Pentagon building killing 64 passengers and 125 Pentagon personnel.
Three of the hijacked planes had hit their targets from 8:46 when the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center to the Pentagon building being hit at 9:37.
Attention Focuses On Flight 93
With Flight 93 being the only one of the hijacked planes still in the air, its flight path was being watched closely. The gravity of the situation is shown by the White House and Capitol building being evacuated at 9:43 AM.
The following intelligence was gathered that made it almost a certainty that Osama bin Laden was behind the attacks:
9:52: The National Security Agency intercepts a phone call between a known associate of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and someone in the Republic of Georgia, announcing that he had heard “good news”, and that another target was still to be hit.
President Boards Air Force One
President George Bush leaves Sarasota-Bradenton Airport for an undisclosed location. With the uncertainty of not knowing what other attacks may be planned, it may have been best for the president to be in the air when his plane took off at 9:57 AM. Two minutes later at 9:59 AM the south tower collapses in New York City.
Meanwhile, the passenger revolt began on Flight 93 at 9:59 AM. The passengers now knew that their plane was going to be the next plane used to hit a building, so decided to rush the cockpit and gain control of the plane.
Flight 93 would crash at 10:03 apparently because of the fighting in the cockpit, between the passengers and hijackers. The flight crashed 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
We may never know for sure, what the target of Flight 93 was but it probably would have been either the Capitol building or the White House.
The north Tower collapsed at 10:28 AM 29 minutes after the south tower collapsed, even though the north tower had been hit 18 minutes, before the south tower had been hit.
The president arrives at Barksdale Air Force in Shreveport, Louisiana at 1:04 PM. He says in a statement, that the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for the attacks.
President Bush lands at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska at 2:50 PM and departs at 4:36 PM.
At 5:30 PM a third building the 7 World Trade Center would collapse. It was a 47 story structure.
The president lands at the White House at 6:54 PM.
The aftermath of 9/11
United States citizens were in a state of shock after the events of September 9, 2011. Churches noticed a surge in attendance immediately. Senior Pastor Ed Young of Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas has this to say about the increased attendance:
“After 9/11 we had 20-some odd thousand people show up,” said Senior Pastor Ed Young. “The largest crowd in the history of Fellowship Church and when I walked on stage I looked around and said, ‘Where have you guys been? It takes something like this for you to show up to church?'”
But the pews were soon a bit roomier.
“I was disappointed somewhat that more didn’t stick because we dropped to 16 or 17 thousand the next weekend and then the weekend after that to about 14,500,” he said.
Young goes on further to say:
Young attributes the initial attendance spike to human nature. “I think when we are riddled with fear, when things fall apart around us especially when we are struck at the heart of who we are, people suddenly respond and they’re turning to God and asking those deep questions in an even deeper way,” he said.
“When things are going bad we want to turn to God and want to get right with him and we want to attend to church,” Young said. “When things level out we tend to forget the most important things and drift away.”
Many Heroes on 9/11
There are no words to express thanks to the New York Fire Department and Police Department sufficiently for those that gave their lives that day trying to save others.
While others were rushing to safety down the stairs of the Twin Tower buildings, they were rushing up the stairs facing almost certain death. They may not have known it at the time, since the buildings were not expected to collapse.
Still they climbed up stairwell after stairwell to do what they could to save lives. Many personnel in the FDNY and NYPD died on 9/11 putting others ahead of their own personal safety, while jeopardizing their own lives.
Then after the buildings fell, the fire personnel began the slow agonizing process, of trying to find survivors, under the rubble of the World Trade Center.
Flight 93 Heroes
The passengers on Flight 93 who fought with the hijackers will always be regarded as heroes, since they may have died, but succeeded in preventing the plane from hitting the Capitol or White House, which were likely the next target of the hijackers.
They already knew what had happened with the other hijacked planes hitting buildings in New York City and Washington, D.C. They gave their lives knowing the odds were against them, but still made a charge at the cockpit to force the hijackers to lose control of the plane and crash.
Casualties of 9/11
2,606 died in World Trade Center connected deaths and 125 more died at the Pentagon crash site. 246 passengers died on the hijacked planes for a total of 2,977 deaths on 9/11. This is not an accurate count since we may never know how many died at the World Trade Center.
The New York Fire Department lost 341 personnel and 2 paramedics. The New York Police Department lost 23 officers on 9/11.
Thoughts on 9/11
When I think of 9/11 I think of those people jumping to a certain death, the families and friends that knew their loved ones were in the building and wondering if they would ever see them again. I think of fire personnel running up the stairs with many pounds of equipment as they saw those fleeing to safety coming down the stairs.
I think of the friends and families talking to their loved ones on the ill-fated flights that would lead to their deaths. The ones in the buildings and planes telling their loved ones that they loved them one last time.
I think of the ones that called in sick or were late to work that day at the World Trade Center and the ones who might have been called in to work on their day off.
I think of how many more lives would have been lost if the planes had hit in the middle of the buildings instead of toward the top, which would have sealed off 40 or 50 floors, preventing any chance to escape.
I think of those fleeing the scene when the buildings begin to collapse, looking back at huge clouds of billowing smoke. I think of the eerie scene after the buildings collapsed turning that part of downtown to into a dusty scene one thinks of in a disaster movie.
I think of those who suddenly turned to God in fear of what might be next, then think of those who returned back to their lives of making God second place in their hearts, once they thought they were safe again.
Osama bin Laden Won’t Be Around For 10th Memorial of 9/11
Thankfully, Osama bin Laden won’t be around to gloat 10 years after 9/11. He is the main reason 9/11 happened so I had no sympathy for him when he met a violent death himself, but even that can’t bring back the fathers, mothers, daughters and sons who were killed on September 11, 2001.
God bless America!!!