It’s still true today — 14 years later.
It’s difficult to find a person who does not remember what they were doing the awful morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when al Qaida terrorists — who had for months hidden in plain sight in Florida — brought terror and death to American soil. Here’s one truth: The life America knew before that day was gone forever.
The collapse of the World Trade Center’ twin towers in New York cut such a deep gash in our collective psyche that it transcended our borders and shook the entire world.
The destruction of the Twin Towers — an American symbol of innovation, power and culture — not only seriously damaged the New York economy, but also had a devastating effect on global markets, with Wall Street closing for six days and civilian flights in the United States and Canada grounded nationwide. Hard to imagine that today.
In New York, the damage to property and infrastructure was in the billions. The damage to the city’s spirit was even more crushing. But the most tragic cost was in human lives.
In all, the Sept. 11 attacks left 2,996 dead, including 19 terrorists who hijacked four commercial planes and aimed them at the Twin Towers and the Pentagon building in Arlington, with the fourth headed to Washington D.C., before crashing in a Pennsylvania field. Among the passengers on those four planes were true heroes.
On the ground, among the dead were 343 New York firefighters and 72 police officers who heroically rushed to rescue the victims trapped in the burning skyscrapers before they collapsed into rubble.
Osama bin Laden and al Qaida intended to bring America to its knees by striking at the financial heart of one of its most important cities.
They did not succeed. We’re proof of that 14 years later. But it has been a painful road back.
The nation was immediately handed the task of healing its wounds, while the government promised that those responsible would be brought to justice. It took 10 years to catch bin Laden, but we caught him.
Later in 2001, President George W. Bush gave the order to attack Afghanistan, whose Taliban government was closely linked to al Qaida.
Decades after Pearl Harbor, the administration’s mantra became the same: Such a brazen attack on U.S. soil could not, and would never, occur again.
Sadly, Sept. 11 opened our eyes to terrorism. It was no longer happening to other people in remote countries. Suddenly, it had crashed through our door. Since that day, there has been a danger just around the corner, a monster that could strike at any time. It was this generation’s loss of innocence.
In the fight against terrorism we have willingly given up some liberties and made monumental mistakes, such as the invasion of Iraq. Still, despite the very real threats of terrorism, our democracy prevails.
Where the Twin Towers fell today stands a new building, One World Trade Center, the tallest in the Western Hemisphere, with two ponds on the edges of which are engraved the names of those who died in the attacks.
Today, as on every anniversary, the names of those who died will be read and President Obama, who captured bin Laden, will ask for a moment of silence to remember the tragedy.
Our nation did not buckle and, on this anniversary once again, reaffirms its faith in the future.