On this day twelve years ago, America changed forever when al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four airplanes and wreaked havoc on the East Coast.
At 8:46 AM on September 11, 2001, an American Airlines passenger plane bound for Los Angeles from Boston collided into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. As a shocked America wondered if this was just some horrible accident, another airplane crashed into the South Tower at 9:03. The facts could not be ignored any longer – this was a terrorist attack by jihadists fighting for their warped idea of holy war.
Half an hour after the second plane crashed into the South Tower, another plane crashed into the Pentagon, and a fourth plane, believed to be headed for Washington, D. C., crash landed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after the brave passengers in that flight fought the hijackers for control of the airplane.
In New York City, chaos was ensuing. The two airplanes had set off huge fires in both buildings which were slowly melting the steel which held the towers up. People working below the point of impact fled down the many flights of stairs to safety, and met brave firefighters and policemen who were moving up to try to rescue whoever needed help.
But the people who were trapped above where the planes had hit the towers had no such hope of being saved. Unable to escape down the stairs, many made the choice of jumping out of windows, higher than 1,000 feet in the air, some holding hands. People at ground level could hear the sickening sound of bones hitting the asphalt every few minutes.
Both towers collapsed at 10:30 AM, trapping many people in the debris including the brave first responders. In total, 2,606 people died in New York that day, including more than 400 first responders and emergency personnel. All 206 people aboard the four hijacked planes were killed. 125 people were killed at the Pentagon. Almost 3,000 innocent lives were taken that day.
I was not old enough to remember where I was on that horrible day. I lost no loved ones on that day, thank God. But I do share in the pain. Everyone in America was personally affected in some way by this tragic event. We all wondered; why would someone be so cruel to do this to innocent people?
There are some who believe that it is time to move on from this memory. Some say that we should not show young schoolchildren, or even high schoolers, videos or audio clips from that day. Some say that it is too horrible, the images too violent. But it is the truth. As children of God, we all share in the pain of this day.
We cannot forget those people who gave their lives today. We cannot forget those brave passengers of the airplanes and office workers in the Twin Towers who made last phone calls to their loved ones. We cannot forget the workers in the Defense Department killed at the Pentagon. We cannot forget those firefighters, medics, and policemen who did the impossible and ran up the towers to rescue innocent people. We cannot erase the memory of those two words: “Let’s roll!” out of our hearts. We cannot let go of this memory.