A day like today 17 years ago an unforgettable and life-changing event struck the United States of America. The morning of September 11, 2001, people went about their day as they usually would, not expecting what was about to occur. The worst terrorist attacks on U.S. soil had started to unfold and the beginning of a tragedy that would be replayed and never forgotten in the history of our nation was imminent.
That Tuesday morning was subject to four simultaneous attacks that generated thousands of fatal casualties. The World Trade Center in New York City suffered the first two crashes; both the North and South towers were hit consecutively. Shortly after the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and a field in Pennsylvania, were crashed into. The latter’s target was believed to had been either the Capitol or the White House; however, it never reached its destination as passengers fighting the hijackers made the airplane fall. By noon the iconic skyscrapers had collapsed wholly to the ground and the devastation was unreal.
Although, many unofficial theories and conspiracies have surfaced throughout the years, history tells us that the airline hijacks and the suicide attacks were orchestrated by Osama bin Laden and executed by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda in retaliation against the United States for supporting other ideologies, religions, and countries – according to bin Laden’s 2002 “Letter to America.”
This horrific episode not only marked the American people, it shook the world. People remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the breaking news. TV networks worldwide interrupted their scheduled programming to announce the terrorist attacks. Dusty streets, loud alarms, and people in despair were the pictures being broadcasted to the world. The vivid images appearing on TV made the audience ache and fear from afar.
The way of living in the United States changed forever after that day. It affected the way we traveled, the way we interacted with other ethnic groups, but most of all the way we perceived safety in the country. Having attacked symbols of America’s power and influence made the country vulnerable and led to a controversial war on terrorism that doesn’t seem to end.
Annually, the Ground Zero memorial is the gathering point to pay tribute to the victims. Today we honor and remember the people who were killed by this catastrophic and senseless attack, and the survivors who are still with us but were affected for life. 17 years later the nation still grieves and the hearts of the families that lost a loved one still ache, but one can argue that all that pain has evolved into strength and the nation has grown stronger nevertheless.
Whether 9/11 was an “inside job,” like many believe, or bin Laden’s attack, as history says, we must never forget to live our best life everyday.
By Cynthia Paola Bautista