The History Of 9/11

Hannah Le, Staff Writer

 This day eighteen years ago, close to three thousand people were killed in a terrorist attack when nineteen hijackers boarded four different U.S. commercial planes and subsequently crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and in a town in Somerset County, Pennsylvania approximately 20 minutes away in flying time to Washington D.C. 9/11 resulted in the collapse of the Twin Towers and almost 200 people being killed when a part of the Pentagon crumbled.

   5:45 am that day, the hijackers passed through security screenings in Portland, Maine carrying knives either on themselves, or in their carry on luggage. Before 9/11, knives with blades less than four inches long were accepted and airports weren’t required to video the security process. 

   American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 77 and 175 to Los Angeles took off each with five hijackers inside. At 8:19 am, Flight Attendant Betty Ong on Flight 11 was able to transmit information using an inflight phone to American Airlines ground personnel about the hijackers who had stabbed a man in first class and had taken control of the cockpit. Minutes after, Flight 77 took off, and minutes after that a hijacker on Flight 11 accidentally broadcasted messages intended for the passengers of the plane to air traffic and ground control, telling them that they were returning to the airport, and that as long as everyone stayed quiet and didn’t move, they would be safe. Thirteen minutes after Flight 11’s message, Boston Air Control informed the U.S. Air Force, and five minutes after that at 8:42, United Airlines Flight 93 took off with four hijackers heading to San Francisco. 

   At 8:46 am, forty-seven minutes after they took off, Flight 11 crashed into floors 93 through 99 of the North Tower and killed everyone inside the plane instantly. Immediately, emergency dispatchers sent police and firefighters to the North Tower. At 8:50, George W. Bush, the President of the United States at the time, was notified about what happened while visiting an elementary school in Sarasota in Florida. Five minutes later, there was an announcement in the South Tower that said that Building Two was secure and were told to return to their offices if they were evacuating. Four minutes after that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (PAPD) ordered the evacuation of both towers and then extends the order to include everyone in the World Trade Center.

   At 8:52, a flight attendant on Flight 175 reported that their plane was also being hijacked. At 9:52 am, three minutes after the PAPD’s order, there was a broadcast in the South Tower asking everyone to leave the tower. By 9:53 Flight 175 crashed into Floors 77 through 85 of the South Tower. No one on the airplane survived and two of the three emergency stairs were destroyed. 

   On Flight 77, a few passengers managed to contact the airlines and federal officials that hijackers have taken control of the plane and at 9:37 Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. Five minutes later the Federal Aviation Administration ordered all planes in the U.S. airspace to ground and restricted any other planes from taking off. At 9:45, Washington D.C. evacuated and closed down public locations. At 9:58, a passenger aboard Flight 93 reached an emergency operator, and a group of people stormed the cockpit. A minute after, the South Tower collapsed in ten seconds after 56 minutes of burning, and at 10:03, Flight 93 crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Around ten minutes after, the E Ring of the Pentagon collapsed, and at 10:28 the North Tower caved in. All of Lower Manhattan was encouraged to evacuate. 

   The area of disaster at the World Trade Center site began to be called Ground Zero, a term which is usually used to refer to an area where an atomic bomb was used. All through the day and even going until September 12, rescue teams searched for survivors at Ground Zero. At 12:30 pm on the 12th, Genelle Guzman was the last survivor found in the debris. By the 12th, most of the fire at the Pentagon was extinguished, and the crash site of Flight 93 was secured. Ten years later, on September 12th of 2011, the National 9/11 Memorial was opened to the public and in May of 2014, the 9/11 Memorial Museum opened. 

Now, at almost twenty years, we look back on the tragedy that shook the American nation. On this day, we remember the pain and the suffering that we have gone through. And as time passes, we continue to let ourselves heal and grow from the wound that infected us, eighteen years ago, September 11, 2001.