“Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes, or in their offices; secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers; moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed; our country is strong. “
– President George W. Bush, September 11, 2001
The Murderers Strike at Our Nation
Early on the morning of this day, September 11 in 2001, nearly 3,000 people were murdered by fanatical muslim terrorists. Their murderers were 19 individuals – members of a terrorist attack group named Al-Qaeda. These murderers had hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners which they then intentionally crashed. Two of the airliners were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing all on board as well as many people working in the adjacent buildings of the World Trade Center (WTC) Complex. Both of the Twin Towers collapsed within two hours, destroying several nearby buildings of the WTC and damaging others. The hijackers crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon building in Arlington, Virginia, just
outside of Washington, D.C. (above). The fourth plane went down in a field near Shanksville in rural Pennsylvania (below), after its passengers and flight crew, having determined the hijackers aims, attempted to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers evidently planned to use on some other target in Washington, D.C. , possibly the White House or the Capital building. There were no survivors from any of the flights. A total of 2,980 human beings perished in
in these attacks. All 19 of their murderers died as well. The vast majority of those who died were innocent civilians – citizens of over 90 countries around the world, although most of them were Americans who along with the freedom and prosperity which they represented were the obvious targets of the killers. A large number of the casualties were brave members of the New York City Fire and Police departments, who responded to the emergency, and sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. In his remarks quoted above President Bush responded to the events that very night. Later, on September 20, in an address to the nation before for a joint session of Congress, he said:
“Each of us will remember what happened that day, and to whom it happened. We’ll remember the moment the news came — where we were and what we were doing. Some will remember an image of a fire, or a story of rescue. Some will carry memories of a face and a voice gone forever. Each of us will remember what happened that day, and to whom it happened. We’ll remember the moment the news came — where we were and what we were doing.”
An Ordinary Morning at U.T. Austin, Until….
For my own part, I was sitting at my desk in the Brass Woodwind and Percussion Instrument Room of the University of Texas at Austin School of Music. I was working at my computer when my fine colleague Tony Zapata, the School of Music’s Business Manager came in to his job at the Business Office which was then just down the hall from my location. “Brian did you hear that a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City?” he asked. I had not heard of this. I frequently had a radio playing in my office, but that particular morning I did not. I had images in my mind of a private plane crashing into one of those huge towers in a fog . I turned on the radio, and reports made it sound like considerably more serious than that. So I pulled out a small color TV which I kept in that office, as a part of my job was to check out TV/Video monitors for classroom use. I do not remember the exact time, but the first strike occurred at 8:46 a.m., and as fate would have it I turned on the TV just as the strike on the second tower was being shown. This was not, I think as it happened – which was at 9:03 a.m., but it was only a few minutes later. As I saw this image I was frozen with fear imagining what it must have been like for the passengers on that plane. Clearly, this was more than just the small accident that I had at first imagined.
The Rest of the Day Was a Horrified Blur
I remember a jumble of images from the rest of that day. Calls from friends and colleagues discussing what had happened. E-mails from a former student, as well as questions about whether the University would remain open also came to my office. U.T. did indeed remain open, but I also remember making the morning run for mail across campus, and seeing that every automobile entrance to the University power plant had been blocked with heavy equipment – trucks or bulldozers. I stopped in the student union building, and saw that every television monitor in the food court had small crowds of students huddled around it silently watching as the horror unfolded. The same happened with one of the TV monitors in the Music Building lobby which usually had only announcements on it’s screen, but which had been turned on to news reports. It was there that I first saw the picture of the Marines raising the flag atop Mt. Suribachi during tha Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II place alongside of the photo of firemen doing the same with the flag atop the wreckage of the WTC. This photo pairing had a particularly strong significance for me, as my father had been both a combat veteran of the battle on Iwo Jima, and a fireman for 25 years after the war.
Those are my memories of what happened to me in my world on 9/11. What are your memories? Where were you when you heard about it? What were you doing? How did it affect you? Please do write in to this blog and tell me. Or write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Even now, 12 years later, they are relevant and important for you, for I and for ALL Americans to know about. Whatever you were doing, it is your small part of history. and I hope that you will write in and tell me, tell us all about it. I have in the posting just before this one written out the recollections of many of the people I know, and even a few whom I do not know, of what they were doing that day, how they heard about it, and how it affected them. I hope that you will give that a look.
Like a Certain Sunday in 1941…
Clearly our world had changed. In the remainder of his remarks that September 20 speech before congress, our President reminded us of another world changing attack upon us and our freedom that had happened to a previous generation:
“On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country. Americans have known wars — but for the past 136 years, they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the casualties of war — but not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning. Americans have known surprise attacks — but never before on thousands of civilians. All of this was brought upon us in a single day — and night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack.
How Have We Changed Since Then?
We have, as a people become considerably more vigilant about the threat of terrorism. An entire new department of government has since been created: “the Department of Homeland Security.” The regime which allowed the terrorist vermin to fester, that of the Taliban in Afghanistan was uprooted and bombed nearly out of existence. Nevertheless, many elements of the Taliban continue to exist and threaten the peace and freedom of the world. A subsequent war was fought in Iraq, which was highly controversial, and was said by many, and not in my opinion without reason, to have taken our national focus away from the Taliban in Afghanistan. But that war ultimately lead to the death of one more middle-eastern despot, and more indirectly in my opinion to the “Arab Spring” that has followed, for better or worse. BUT whatever the paranoia that may exist (or NOT) visa-vie Muslim Americans, I am eternally proud that my generation did NOT resort to the Internment Camps to which Japanese Americans were subjected in the 1940’s, nor anything REMOTELY like it. And as to the filthy murdering scum who was the primary author of this violence, Osama Bin Laden, he now is being eaten by the fishes. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu said “Congratulations America, Congratulations, Mr. President, you got Bin Laden… GOOD RIDDANCE!!” To which I can only add may Bin Laden and all of his minions rot in hell.
READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any “Today in History” posting, I would love to hear from you!! You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at: email@example.com I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I’m writing (or not)!