Remembering 9/11: fifteen years later

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Remembering 9/11: fifteen years later

Maria Glotfelter
Features Editor

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Billows of smoke and flame pour from the World Trade Center’s towers after sustaining attacks from hijacked planes (Photo courtesy of Flickr).

It is hard to believe that there is now a generation who will have no first-hand recollection of what happened on September 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks that occurred on that day will be history lessons for them. Current Millersville students were likely in elementary school on 9/11 and perhaps only have a vague recollection of their parents watching, horrified, as the shocking news was displayed on TV. Others who were older at the time may have been inspired to join one of the military services. No matter how old Americans were on that fateful day, they were profoundly impacted, and the event was forever engraved in the minds of the American people. On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda members, an Islamic extremist network, hijacked four planes, crashing two into the World Trade Center towers and one into the Pentagon. Nearly 3,000 people were killed that day and even more were wounded and injured. The North Tower of the World Trade Center was the first to be attacked at 8:46am when American Flight 11 crashed. News reporters at the time were unsure if the crash was an attack or a terrible accident. However, barely thirty minutes later their questions were answered. United Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, making it clear that this was not an accident.

In the burning towers, numerous were killed on impact, but the fate of those not immediately murdered was not much better. Some people were forced to jump from the towers as the flames licked closer at their heels, and these horrific moments are captured in picture, making the tragedies impossible to forget. Both towers of the World Trade Center eventually collapsed after receiving too much structural damage. Shortly after the South Tower was hit, American Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. The last plane, United Flight 93, was the only hijacked plane not to hit its target. The fourth and final plane, which passengers attempted to gain control over, crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Following all these events, President George W. Bush gave a famous address to the nation. President Bush encouraged the American people and declared a war on terrorism, which was responsible for the atrocious attacks. He praised the heroic efforts of fire-fighters, citizens, and countless others who fought to save those inside of the burning buildings. Then the long rebuilding process began.

A number of people were wounded during the attacks and rescue attempts. According to Kevin McCoy, a USA TODAY writer, 21,000 people have filed claims for compensation for the injuries they sustained. The September 11th Victims Compensation Fund determined that 9,000 filers were eligible, and 6,000 of those 9,000 received compensation McCoy wrote. The damage caused by the terrorist attacks on 9/11 goes beyond the death toll. In a way, the rebuilding of the hearts of those impacted directly during 9/11 is an ongoing process. The 9/11 Memorial Museum was created to honor those who lost their lives during the events and to remember the events of that day. For some, the memories of 9/11 are relived every time the anniversary comes by, even though it has been fifteen long years since that day. Others may not relive experiences, but fuzzily recall parents or relatives making frantic phone calls to loved ones traveling or living in the state of New York. The younger generation will look at tragic videos on social media and share and post them in honor of the events they do not even remember. 9/11 will continue to have a profound impact on American culture and history.