Eimear Kelly remembers the event that changed the world forever.
It has been 16 years since 9/11.
On September 11 2001, America and the rest of the world were shook by a terrorist attack that no one saw coming. At approximately 8.45am, an American Airlines Boeing 767, flight 11, struck the World Trade Centre’s North tower. There were 92 people aboard. Hundreds of people were killed instantly and hundreds more remained trapped. Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of the tragedy. At 9.03am, only 18 minutes later United Airlines Flight 175, Boeing 767, collided with the South Tower. This flight had 65 people aboard. 65 minutes later, the South Tower gives way and collapses onto the street below. The huge cloud of dust and debree covers several blocks of the city while people run and stagger away in terror.
The North tower follows suit at 10.28am as it crumples to the ground. With both towers fallen and an unknown amount of people dead or injured, New York City erupted into complete chaos. Phonelines were flooded with over 230 million panicked phone calls being made to loved ones. Power was out in Lower Manhattan. So many brave and heroic firefighters rushed to help, resulting in hundreds of them becoming trapped in the towers, or what was left of them.
Fires begin in nearby buildings due to the fallen debris. Three more World Trade buildings are burning ferociously. World trade 7, which was home to the entire city’s command centre also collapses at 5.20pm after being ablaze for approximately 7 hours.
New York City was an extremely dangerous place at this time and it is a mystery as to how many lives have been lost. Panic and fear took over completely. Nobody fully understood what was happening around them, and people began to flee. Video footage shows crowds of terrified and bewildered people walking across Brooklyn Bridge together in an attempt to escape the destruction that has taken over their city. The United States Army Corps of Engineers also came to people’s aid. The pure courage and compassion shown on this day is nothing less than inspiring.
The New York Police department record 78 officers as missing at 7.45pm and also believe that around 200 firefighters have lost their lives. At 10.56pm word spreads that some of the victims may have survived and could be caught up in the rubble. Search and rescue teams do all they can.
History.com states that the attack was reportedly “financed by the al-Qaeda terrorist organization of Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden” and that the terrorist group “were allegedly acting in retaliation for America’s support of Israel, its involvement in the Persian Gulf War and its continued military presence in the Middle East”.
The site also states that “only six people in the World Trade Center towers at the time of their collapse survived” and that “almost 10,000 others were treated for injuries, many severe”. It is also stated that 343 firefighters and paramedics lost their lives in an attempt to save others, and a total of 2,996 people lost their lives as a result of this devastating attack.
The United States now recognises as September 11th as ‘Patriots Day’ and is seen as the National Day of Service and Remembrance of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Events are held across the country to honour and remember the thousands of lives lost on this sorrowful and extremely distressing day.
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is located at Ground Zero at the World Trade Centre. It is home to bronze panels which have the names of every person who died inscribed onto them. The pear planted at the memorial is one which was recovered from the rubble after the attacks. It was rehabilitated before being returned to the memorial in 2010. It is now a symbol of resilience, survival and rebirth.
September 11th 2001 was the most tragic and longest day in New York’s history and while the immense courage, benevolence and compassion that was shown could never make up for the destruction and loss, it is such an important lesson to take from it.