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The Attacks on September 11, 2001
On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamist extremist group al Qaeda hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane was crashed into a field near Shanksville Pennsylvania. Often referred to simply as 9/11, the attacks resulted in extensive death and destruction, triggering major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism. Nearly 3,000 people were killed during the attacks, including more than 400 police officers and firefighters and 246 passengers and crew on the four planes. This was the most deadly terrorist attack in U.S. history.
On September 11, 2001, at 8:46 a.m. on a clear Tuesday morning, an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with jet fuel crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The impact left a gaping, burning hole between floors 93-99 of the 110-story skyscraper, instantly killing hundreds of people and trapping hundreds more in higher floors. As the evacuation of the tower got underway, television cameras broadcasted live images of what initially appeared to be a freak accident. Then, 17 minutes after the first plane hit, a second Boeing 767–United Airlines Flight 175–appeared out of the sky, turned sharply toward the World
View of lower Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001. Photograph by David Monderer. Collection of the New-York Historical Society.
terrorists from Saudi Arabia and several other Arab nations. Reportedly financed by Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist organization, they were allegedly acting in retaliation for America’s support of Israel, its involvement in the Persian Gulf
The Pentagon After the Attack. Courtesy Department of Defense.
Trade Center and sliced into floors 77-85 of the South Tower. The collision caused a massive explosion that showered burning debris over surrounding buildings and the streets below. America was under attack. The attackers were Islamist extremist
War and its continued military presence in the Middle East. They chose to attack the Pentagon and World Trade Center because they are powerful symbols of America – symbols that define the United States as
an economic and military superpower. Some of the terrorists had lived in the United States for more than a year and had taken flying lessons at American commercial flight schools. Others had slipped into the country in the months before September 11 and acted as the “muscle” in the operation. American intelligence agencies like the CIA and FBI were on the lookout for terrorist activities, but had expected bomb attacks like those of the past, or perhaps biological or chemical attacks that cause widespread terror. They were unprepared for this kind of attack. (The 9/11 Commission Report on the attacks revealed four kinds of failures: in imagination, policy, capabilities, and management.) The 19 terrorists easily smuggled knives through security at three East Coast airports and boarded four flights bound for California, chosen because the planes were loaded with fuel for the long transcontinental journey. Soon after takeoff, the terrorists commandeered the four planes and took the controls, transforming ordinary commuter jets into guided missiles. As millions watched the events unfolding in New York, American Airlines Flight 77 circled over downtown Washington, D.C., and slammed into
the west side of the Pentagon military headquarters at 9:37 a.m. Jet fuel from the Boeing 757 caused a devastating inferno that led to the structural collapse of a portion of the giant concrete building. 125 military personnel and civilians were killed in the Pentagon, along with all 59 passengers and crew aboard the airliner. Twenty-two minutes after the terrorists struck the nerve center of the U.S. military, the horror in New York took a catastrophic turn for the worse when the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed in a massive cloud of dust and smoke. The structural steel of the skyscraper, built to withstand winds in excess of 120 miles per hour and a large conventional fire, could not withstand the tremendous heat generated by the burning jet fuel coupled with the structural damage caused by the plane crash. At 10:28 a.m., the North Tower collapsed. 2,753 people died in the World Trade Center and its vicinity, including a staggering 346 firefighters, 23 New York City police officers, and 37 Port Authority police officers who were struggling to complete an evacuation of the buildings and save the office workers trapped on higher floors. Thousands of others were treated for injuries, many severe. Meanwhile, a fourth California-bound plane – United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 – was hijacked about 40 minutes after
Hijackers pass security screening
Hijackers Mohammed Atta and Abdulaziz al Omari pass through security at Portland International Jetport in Maine. They board a shuttle flight to Boston’s Logan International Airport, where they connect to Los Angelesbound American Airlines Flight 11. Atta will pilot Flight 11 on its lethal course into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Four hijackers physically subdue passengers and crew so that Atta can breach the cockpit and kill or disable the two American Airlines pilots. Over the next hour and a half, seventeen other hijackers clear security checks at Logan Airport, Newark International Airport, and Washington Dulles Airport. All presumably carry knives, box cutters or other concealed weapons on their person or in carry-on luggage. Although eight are tagged for additional screening and a gate agent flags two as suspicious, none are prevented from boarding their intended flights.
Courtesy National September 11 Memorial & Museum with other content added. “I don’t know, I think we’re getting hijacked.”
— Flight attendant Betty Ann Ong, American Airlines Flight 11
American Airlines Flight 11 takes off from Logan Airport in Boston, MA, 14 minutes behind its scheduled departure
Seventy-six passengers, 11 crewmembers and five hijackers board Flight 11. In industry terms, the Los Angeles-bound flight is “riding heavy,” stocked with up to 68,400 pounds of fuel for its transcontinental run. Al Qaeda terrorists hijack the plane at approximately 8:14 am and reroute it towards Manhattan, using the Hudson River as a navigational guide.
United Airlines Flight 175 takes off from Logan Airport in Boston, MA, also 14 minutes behind its scheduled departure
Fifty-one passengers, nine crewmembers, and five hijackers board Los Angelesbound Flight 175. Al Qaeda terrorists hijack the plane at approximately 8:45 am and reroute it towards Manhattan.
Flight 77 Takes Off
American Airlines Flight 77, en route to Los Angeles, departs Washington Dulles International Airport ten minutes delayed.
Hijacker Mohammed Atta on Flight 11 Mistakenly Contacts Air Traffic Control
Minutes later, he makes a second unintended transmission.
American Flight 11 Crew Contact Airline
Veteran flight attendants Betty Ann Ong and Madeline “Amy” Sweeney, with a combined 26 years of experience, alert ground personnel to the hijacking of Flight 11. They stay on the line for almost the entire duration of the flight after its seizure by the terrorists, relaying key details about the attack such as the hijackers’ seat numbers and report that the crew is unable to contact the cockpit. Acting on Ong and Sweeney’s information, American Airlines alerts the FBI, jumpstarting the investigation that will become the largest in the agency’s history. According to Sweeney, the crew attends to the safety of the passengers, providing medical care to those injured in the hijacking.
Air Traffic Control Contacts the Military
After hearing Atta’s transmission, air traffic controllers contact Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), a division of the military that defends North American airspace, to report the hijacking.
Flight 93 Takes Off
United Airlines Flight 93 departs Newark International Airport after a lengthy air traffic delay on the tarmac. Flight 93 was scheduled to leave Newark at 8:00 am, within minutes of the other hijacked flights.
Crash of Flight 11
Flying the plane at about 470 miles per hour, hijackers crash Flight 11 into floors 93-99,
Courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice.
instantly killing the 87 passengers and crew on board and unknown hundreds within the tower. The crash starts fires throughout the North Tower and funnels jet fuel down elevator shafts, igniting fireballs at the lobby and below-grade levels and burning anyone coming into contact with this combusting fuel. The impact severs all three emergency stairwells, trapping 100’s in and above the impact zone. Investment firm Fred Alger Management and professional services company Marsh & McClennan have offices in the impact zone. Thirty-five Alger employees and 295 Marsh employees perish in the attack. Carr Futures’ 69 employees, at work on the 92nd floor directly below the impact zone, also perish. Trapped by debris, they are unable to evacuate. Bond trading firm Cantor Fitzgerald, floors 101-105, suffers the single largest loss of life, 658 employees.
I could see the big airline coming straight towards us. It looked like it was coming towards us. Didn’t look like the plane was in any kind of duress. It was going straight towards what I thought was our building, but in actuality Tower 1 was right in front of us. I just stood frozen. I didn’t move – I couldn’t move. I just stood at the window.
I could see it coming closer and closer. I could see their “AA” [American Airlines] on its tail. I could see the cockpit. I could see inside the cockpit, the tinted windows of the cockpit, that’s how close I was.
(Sigh) I could see on the side some of the windows of-of the passengers were pulled down, and then it just bellowed into Tower 1. And, for a moment, just for that moment, I almost sighed with relief until I realized (pause) all those people that had just [been] killed in that Tower.” http://timeline. #Explore/2/AudioEntry/2
North tower on Fire. Courtesy of 9/11 Memorial Museum. Photograph by Roberto Rabanne. From The Roberto Rabanne Archive.
badly burned — no skin, no hair, just burned.”
— Bruno Dellinger, Quint Amasis, North Tower, 47th Floor
Emergency Services Mobilized
The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and New York Police Department (NYPD) dispatch units to the World Trade Center within seconds of Flight 11’s crash.
“We have some planes. Just stay quiet and you will be O.K.”
— Hijacker Mohamed Atta, mistakenly spoken to traffic control
On site, Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) officers begin evacuating the North Tower. PAPD headquarters in Jersey City, New Jersey dispatches additional officers from other command posts to the World Trade Center. In July 2001, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, long-time managers of the World Trade Center, agreed to lease the buildings to real estate developer Larry Silverstein. On September 11, 2001, both Port Authority and Silverstein Properties staff are in the building working on the transition. Their expert knowledge of the towers helps Port Authority fire safety, building and security staff coordinate the evacuation.
“When I arrived at the sky lobby level there were, uh, masses of people waiting to the elevators. And for some reason I decided to go back into the stairwell. And the heat was just like, quite intense… The intensity of the warning signs, like the sound of the alarms, it was really like ah pounding you… Anyway, so we went down and people were very calm.
department people. Now those people were exhausted. In some of those eyes, and you could see that they knew something, and it was dangerous. They knew something. While there was no panic whatsoever in the stairwell, those people were concentrated, focused on doing their job. And while I was walking down, they were going up to their death. And I was walking down to live.” http://timeline. Explore/2/AudioEntry/26
“I could see the big airline coming straight towards us.”
— Constance Labetti, AON, South Tower, 99th Floor
There were three flows of people. The regular people like me going down. The people who were coming down from the other floors and who were very badly burned — no skin, no hair, just burned. …They were walking or carried down by people; helped by people.
Screams were coming down from the stairwell, ‘Emergency! Emergency!’ …And then the third flow of people was of course those security personnel and fire
President Bush is Alerted Around This Time While Visiting an Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida
South Tower Tenants Instructed to Remain in the Building
“Your attention, please, ladies and gentlemen. Building 2 is secure. There is no need to evacuate Building 2. If you are in the midst of evacuation, you may use the re-entry doors and the elevators to return to your office. Repeat, Building 2 is secure.”
“So I stood up and I just turned my body towards the window and
“…People who were coming down …very
Despite being choked with rubble, Stairwell A remains passable. However, only eighteen people at or above the impact zone are known to have evacuated using this stairway.
And I remember him running back across the floor and grabbing my jacket saying, ‘Let’s go, let’s go.’” http://timeline. Explore/2/AudioEntry/270F
— Constance Labetti, AON, South Tower, 99th Floor
“I think I got to the 72nd floor, 75th floor, when we heard – we felt and heard – a loud noise. And people in the stairs start to fall down the stairs.
North Tower on Fire. Courtesy of 9/11 Memorial Museum. Photograph by Roberto Rabanne. From The Roberto Rabanne Archive.
“We felt and heard a loud noise.”
President Bush is alerted that a second plane has crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center
The President now knows that the country is under attack, but information is scarce.
— Announcement made by Port Authority official via Public Address inside the South Tower
occurred in Building 1 [North Tower]. If the conditions warrant on your floor, you may wish to start an orderly evacuation.” — Port Authority Statement
On Board Flight 175
Crash of Flight 175
Hijackers, flying the plane at 590 miles per hour, crash Flight 175 into floors 77 to 85 of the World Trade Center’s South Tower, instantly killing the 60 passengers and crew and unknown hundreds within the tower. The impact severs two of three emergency stairwells and most of the elevator cables, trapping many inside elevator cars, and cutting off escape routes.
And what it felt like was that some – that Tower 1 – this is what I thought – Tower 1 had collapsed onto our building. It felt like somebody took the building shook it and put it back down in its place.
I was holding onto the banisters really tight so I didn’t fall but a lot of people on the staircase were tumbling down. What evidently happened was our building had just been hit.” http://timeline. Explore/2/AudioEntry/13
Increasing Response
The NYPD calls a second Level 4 Mobilization, bringing its total deployment close to 2,000 men and women. Minutes later, the FDNY issues a second fifth alarm. Other companies and off-duty personnel, not directly called, respond to the attacks. In total, more than 200 fire units, approximately 2,200 police officers, and numerous others from city and federal agencies responded to the disaster scene at the World Trade Center. When their vehicle becomes stuck in traffic, Firefighter Gary R. Box, 37, and others from the FDNY’s elite Squad 1 run through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the World Trade Center. His picture on page 8 was taken shortly after the crash of Flight 175. Squad 1 loses 11 members on 9/11, including Firefighter Box. On the morning of 9/11, Port Authority Officer James Francis Lynch, 47, is on medical leave, resting at his home in New Jersey. Nevertheless, he responds to the attack on the World Trade Center, using his PAPD credentials to clear police cordons and head through the Holland Tunnel. Once Officer Lynch arrives at the towers, he immediately sets to work. As a WTC Emergency Services officer who supervised rescue equipment within the complex, he knows that his experience and knowledge of the towers will be invaluable to the evacuation efforts. He is last seen getting air packs out of a storeroom, then ascending the stairs carrying a load of breathing masks and air tanks. Officer Lynch perishes in the collapse of the South Tower.
As hijacked Flight 175 approaches the World Trade Center, crewmembers and passengers manage to contact loved ones and authorities on the ground. At 8:59 am, Flight 175 passenger Brian David Sweeney, 38, leaves a message for his wife Julie. He then calls his mother, Luise, to report the hijacking, telling her that the passengers are considering storming the cockpit to wrest control from the hijackers. Brian began the flight in the first row of coach, but makes his calls from a GTE airphone located in one of the last rows of the plane.
Machine: BEEP. Message 1
“Hi Jules, this is Brian. - Listen I’m on an airplane that’s been hijacked. If things don’t go well, it’s not looking good, I just want you to know I absolutely love you. I want you to do good, go have some good times. Same to my parents and everybody. And I just totally love you and I will see you when you get there. Bye babe. I’ll try to call you.” (Message courtesy of Julie Sweeney Roth.) http://timeline.national911memorial. org/#/Explore/2/AudioEntry/12
Courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice.
— Florence Jones, Thomson Baseline, South Tower
“I literally thought for a moment, ‘cause he tried to open the door, and all you could feel was the heat of the fire.
“Am I gonna have to jump?”
South Tower Evacuation Order
“May I have your attention, please. Repeating this message the situation
I was like, oh gosh, am I gonna have to jump, because I wasn’t gonna wait for the firemen. Was — Message from Brian David I gonna have to do what I just Sweeney, passenger on Flight 175, saw people doing.
“I just want you to know I absolutely love you.”
to his wife, Julie
“Couldn’t imagine these firefighters going up there into God knows what.”
— Constance Labetti, AON, South Tower, 99th Floor
Crash of Flight 77
Hijackers crash Flight 77 into the Pentagon’s western facade, killing the 59 passengers and crew on board the plane and 125 military and civilian personnel inside the building. A hundred and six are severely injured in the ensuing fire. Loaded with 36,200 lbs of jet fuel, Flight 77 ignites an inferno inside the Pentagon. The Pentagon’s on-site firehouse responds immediately to the crash of Flight 77. Firefighters from nearby National Airport (with a foam truck designed to fight jet fuel fires) and Virginia’s Arlington County Fire Department arrive within minutes. Many civilian employees and military personnel evacuate the building shortly after the impact, while others felt compelled to rush into the burning building to rescue trapped and injured colleagues. A Pentagon security camera captures the crash of Flight 77 into the building’s western facade. At the time of impact, the hijacked plane flew at 530 miles per hour.
“Then the firefighters started to come up and they would holler, ‘Move to the right! Move to the right!’ I think it was probably about the 40th floor when the firefighters started to come up.
And I remember thinking they’re – they’re gonna climb all the way up to 80? I mean how- how are they gonna do that? A few people clapped, a few people wished them blessings.
– God blessings and a few people patted them on the shoulders. People shouted out to go to the 65th floor where there’s a handicap person or to – giving them information. And they just were stone faced, just looked straight ahead; they really didn’t show much emotion. Couldn’t imagine these firefighters going up there into God knows what.” http://timeline. Explore/2/AudioEntry/28
South Tower Impact. Courtesy of 9/11 Memorial Museum. Photograph by Roberto Rabanne. From The Roberto Rabanne Archive.
Flight 93 hijackers accidentally transmit a message intended for the passengers
“Ladies and Gentlemen: Here the Captain, please sit down, keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb onboard. So, sit.” — One of the hijackers of Flight 93
Vice President Cheney Evacuated From White House Office
Secret Service agents evacuate U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and his aides from his office in the White House to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, a Cold War-era bunker beneath the White House.
Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice. The wrong date was due to “mechanical error.”
Crash of Flight 93
Hijackers roll Flight 93 side-to-side, rapidly diving and climbing, in an attempt to knock passengers and crew off balance as they attempt to storm the cockpit. Eyewitnesses on the ground report the aircraft’s erratic flight, ending with the sound of a crash. To prevent passengers from retaking the airplane, hijackers deliberately crash Flight 93 in a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, killing all 40 passengers and crew. The crash site is approximately 20 minutes flying time from Washington, DC.
Pentagon E Ring Collapses
The damaged section of the Pentagon’s outermost offices, known as the E Ring, collapses. No rescue workers are injured. Several times throughout the morning, speculation and misinformation about additional hijacked planes cause the cessation of rescue operations and evacuation of emergency workers. While the rescue effort continues, many Department of Defense (DoD) employees return to work in the unaffected half of the Pentagon. The National Military Command Center (NMCC), located on the far side of the Pentagon, coordinates the US military response to the 9/11 attacks. NMCC officers initiate a conference call with federal and military responders that continues throughout the day.
North Tower of World Trade Center Collapses
The North Tower collapses after burning for 102 minutes, killing 100’s of people in the building and the surrounding area. Of the 16,000 to 19,000 people in the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center on 9/11, the vast majority are evacuated safely. By the end of the day, all seven buildings at the World Trade Center were destroyed.
“Well it was probably a half hour later that I heard the same rumblings coming down. And that was from the North Tower. I said, ‘Oh jeez here we go again.’ I said ‘you know, what’s the chance of
Courtesy of 9/11 Memorial Museum. Gift of John F. O’Sullivan Jr.
workers, first responders, and selfdispatched volunteers converge at Ground Zero to search for survivors, improvising bucket brigades to remove debris. Workers will extricate the eighteenth survivor, Genelle Guzman, from the remains of Stairwell B on the afternoon of September 12. She will be the last person rescued alive.
The attacks resulted in nearly 3,000 fatalities — the largest loss of life from a hostile attack by a foreign entity on American soil. The Fire Department of New York lost 346 members of its force, the New York Police Department lost 23, and the Port Authority Police Department lost 37, the largest loss of emergency responders in a single event in U.S. history. At the three attack sites, days and weeks — and in New York City, months — were spent extinguishing fires, searching for survivors and, ultimately, searching for remains of the victims. It took nine months to remove approximately 1.8 million tons of debris from the World Trade Center site. In the aftermath of 9/11, donations of money and supplies poured in and thousands of people volunteered their help and support. Memorials, services and vigils were held in New York City, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and all over the world. A federal fund compensated victims’ families and severely injured survivors. Families of victims advocated for the formation of the 9/11 Commission, which investigated the attacks and issued a report with analysis and recommendations. Advanced DNA technology continues to be used to identify the remains of victims. However, human remains have still not been identified for approximately 40% of the WTC victims. Public and private sectors partnered to support lower Manhattan’s recovery, growth and revitalization, and worked to balance the need to remember and honor the victims with the need for a strong and vibrant community.
President George W. Bush Addresses the Nation
Back in the White House, President Bush addresses a shocked nation, praising the strength of the nation in the face of the overwhelming events. “Terrorist attacks can … shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve,” he says. “Today, our nation saw evil — the very worst of human nature — and we responded with the best of America. With the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could.” The full transcript and video of the speech is at: http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives. gov/news/releases/2001/09/2001091116.html President Bush visits and speaks with rescue and recovery personnel at Ground Zero on September 14, 2001. A National Day of Prayer and Remembrance is observed.
Collapse of 7 World Trade Center / Courtesy of 9/11 Memorial Museum. Photograph by Roberto Rabanne. From The Roberto Rabanne Archive.
sunlight. It was all dirty and full of debris and it looked like pepper was floating around in it, sort of. But it was sunlight, I’m like amazed now (laughs) a 110 story building above us and I’m looking up at the sun.” - FDNY Lt. Mickey Kross, Engine 16 http://timeline. Explore/2/AudioEntry/59
themselves out or were rescued, including 14 who were together in the shaft of a North Tower stairwell. The last survivor was found only 26 hours after the towers collapsed.
Collapse of 7 World Trade Center
Because lower Manhattan’s waterlines have been compromised, the FDNY cannot get water to fight the flames. Adjacent to the North Tower, 7 World Trade Center had suffered significant damage in the collapse. Fires caused by the collapse of 1 WTC lead to structural instability, and ultimately, total collapse. There are no casualties because the 47story tower had been evacuated that morning. However, the fall of the building sends first responders racing away from the collapsing structure to save their own lives.
1:00pm and Through the Day
Response at the World Trade Center Site
Throughout the afternoon, volunteers, first responders, and construction workers arrive at the site to search for survivors. Firefighters, police officers, paramedics and other emergency service workers stream to the site to join in the firefight and rescue efforts. Operations continue around the clock.
Rescue, Recovery and Rebuilding
Federal, state, and local officials initiated rescue and/or recovery operations at all three attack sites, supported by thousands of first responders, ironworkers, engineers and members of the building trades.
Rescue Workers Locate Trapped PAPD Officers
Rescuers locate PAPD Sgt. John McLoughlin and Officer William Jimeno in the debris of the World Trade Center. They free Officer Jimeno after three hours of dangerous tunneling work. Sgt. McLoughlin’s rescue takes another eight hours. Rescue operations continue throughout the night. Thousands of construction
FDNY Rescue Civilian Pasquale Buzzelli is Rescued From Rubble of Stairwell B at WTC site
Ultimately, only 18 people deeply embedded in the debris pulled
Courtesy of The White House.
fully balance the act of commemoration - which has its own requirements of sensibility and reverence - with the imperatives of education, historical documentation, and fidelity to the emotionally resonant artifacts on display.” Visitors will enter the Memorial Museum through a Pavilion where two steel “tridents”—remnants of the North Tower’s façade—stand in the building’s atrium. The main exhibition space will be located seven stories down at the bedrock foundations of the World Trade Center. The Museum will offer displays of artifacts from the WTC and 9/11 attacks, interactive exhibitions, contemplative areas, and programs that will convey individual and collective stories relating the experiences of survivors, responders, area residents, and eyewitnesses. A memorial exhibition will honor the individual victims of the attacks, featuring artifacts, photographs, and oral remembrances recalling the people killed on 9/11. In addition, educational programs, such as field trips, lecture series, and film screenings, will offer deeper explorations into the events of 9/11, its historical context, the ongoing repercussions of the attacks, and the 9/11 Museum’s collections. Visit www.911memorial. org/teach-learn to view current resources for schools and families.
The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial
Pentagon Memorial
The 184 souls lost in the terrorist attack at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, were mothers fathers husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters, coworkers, flight crew, friends, patriots. The Pentagon Memorial captures that entrance of the Memorial. Etched into the granite zero line is the date and time of the attack:“SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 9:37 A.M.” Visitors to the Memorial may look up a victim’s name and birth year on the locator stone within the Pentagon Memorial Gateway. On age lines with multiple victims, the Memorial Units are organized by birth date along that line. Victims from the same family are linked by a plaque at the end of the pool of water, which lists their family members who also died in the attack, forever binding the family together.
The Pentagon Memorial Landscape
Within the Pentagon Memorial, 85 Crape Myrtle trees are clustered around the Memorial Units, but are not dedicated to any one victim. These trees will grow up to 30 feet to provide a canopy of shade over the Memorial for years to come. The Memorial’s stabilized gravel surface is bordered on the western edge by an Age Wall. The Age Wall grows one inch per year in height above the perimeter bench relative to the age lines. As visitors move through the Memorial, the wall gets higher, growing from three inches (the age of Dana Falkenberg) to 71 inches (the age of John D. Yamnicky). The Age Wall draws the eye to the Memorial for drivers passing by on Washington Boulevard and the adjacent Arlington County Bike Path, while ensuring solitude for visitors. Ornamental grasses mark the boundaries of the Memorial. The Pentagon Memorial design was developed by Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman. Their vision for the Memorial was selected from more than 1,100 submissions by a panel of architects, family members, and public figures in the Washington, D.C. area, including two former Secretaries of Defense. The Pentagon Memorial is the first national memorial dedicated to the horrific events that unfolded on September 11, 2001 — events that claimed 184 lives at the Pentagon, and thousands more around the United States. The Pentagon Memorial is also dedicated to future generations that they might reflect upon and renew their faith in shared American values. Learn more at
The Memorial Units
Each Memorial Unit is a cantilevered bench, a lighted pool of flowing water, and a permanent tribute, by name, to each victim, in one single element. Each memorial bench is made of stainless steel and inlaid with smooth granite. Each Memorial Unit contains a pool of water, reflecting light in the evenings onto the bench and surrounding gravel field. Each Memorial Unit is also specifically positioned in the Memorial to distinguish victims who were in the Pentagon from those who were on board American Airlines Flight 77. At the 125 Memorial Units honoring the victims of the Pentagon, visitors see the victim’s name and the Pentagon in the same view. At the Memorial Units honoring the 59 lives lost on Flight 77, the visitor sees the victim’s name and the direction of the plane’s approach in the same view.
Around the Memorial
On the rest of the WTC site and next to the Memorial and Museum will be commercial buildings, a transportation hub, and a Performing Arts Center. One of these buildings has already been completed and two are under construction. 1 WTC, the building directly north of the North Pool, will have 105 stories and stand taller at 1,776 feet than the original Twin Towers. This building is expected to be completed in 2013. The other buildings will be developed in the coming years.
Visiting the Memorial
When the 9/11 Memorial opens, construction will still be continuing at the WTC site. Millions of visitors are expected in the first year of operation and plans are in place to ensure that the visitor experience is safe and meaningful. During much of the ongoing construction, visitor capacity at the 9/11 Memorial will be limited. To ensure fairness and a wide distribution of visitor passes, a temporary timed reservation system will be used for all visitors. The reservation system will help reduce potential wait times and ensure as many people as possible are able to visit. The passes will be free. For more information, visit
moment in time at 9:37 a.m. when 184 lives became intertwined for eternity. Each victim’s age and location at the time of the attack have been permanently inscribed into the Memorial by the unique placement and direction of each of the 184 Memorial Units. Elegant and simple, the Pentagon Memorial serves as a timeline of the victims’ ages, spanning from the youngest victim, threeyear-old Dana Falkenberg, who was on board American Airlines Flight 77, to the oldest, John D. Yamnicky, 71, a Navy veteran, also aboard Flight 77 that morning.
The Pentagon Memorial Gateway
The 184 Memorial Units within the Pentagon Memorial are located on the age line according to the year the victim was born. The age lines, denoted by stainless steel strips that cross the Memorial, begin at the zero line, which spans from the Gateway to the
Flight 93 National Memorial
Flight 93 National Memorial
In the hours and days following the crash of Flight 93, the final chapter in the horrible events of 9/11, a story of incredible bravery and heroism emerged. Flight 93 was the only one of the hijacked planes that failed to reach its intended target. Flight 93 was just 20 minutes from Washington, DC, and had the passengers and crewmembers not taken decisive action, it is likely that the plane would have been used to crash into the U.S. Capitol or the White House causing unimaginable destruction. The “ordinary” people on board Flight 93 were anything but. They were men and women, mothers, fathers, and children. They were executives, technicians, students, and retirees. They were young and old, black and white, Americans and foreign-born visitors. Yet despite these
The Memorial
When completed, the Flight 93 National Memorial will be the only unit of the national park system chronicling the events and personalities of September 11, 2001. Creating a place that not only remembers the 40 heroes of Flight 93 but also inspires ordinary citizens to act in their own heroic ways is what the Flight 93 National Memorial is all about. The components of the Memorial are: The Sacred Ground is the heart of the Flight 93 National Memorial because it was here that the plane with all 40 passengers and crewmembers aboard crashed on September 11, 2001. A memorial plaza will offer a viewing position of the meadow and hemlock grove, which absorbed much of the devastating impact. The plaza will terminate in a “wall of names” – white marble panels inscribed with each of the names of the forty passengers and crew, parallel to a black
careened in this direction toward a stand of hemlock trees. Passing through the wall and across a plaza, visitors will be standing at an overlook with a sweeping view of the Field of Honor. At the end of the walkway will be a sloped glass plaque inscribed with the memorial’s mission statement. A common field one day. A field of honor forever. May all who visit this place remember the collective acts of courage and sacrifice of the passengers and crew, revere this hallowed ground as the final resting place of those heroes, and reflect on the power of individuals who choose to make a difference. — Preamble to the Flight 93 National Memorial Mission Statement Mission statement at: Creating a living memorial within the Memorial is the objective of planting 40 Memo-
The Visitor Center will be located just inside the Entry Portal, between the large concrete walls designating the final flight path of Flight 93. The Visitor Center will be one of the educational and interpretive hubs of the Memorial, where visitors can learn both about the Flight 93 story as well as about the layout of the Memorial park. A portion of the Visitor Center will be devoted to exhibits. The Learning Center will be located a short distance away. The Learning Center will be able to host temporary or traveling exhibitions about September 11, and its spaces can be easily adapted for small or large groups to host lectures, films, or other
Entry Portal – Courtesy: Paul Murdoch Architects and Alexsander Novak-Zemplinski
apparent differences, they all possessed undeniable qualities of the human spirit – courage, bravery, selflessness – that enabled them to join together in an extraordinary way and achieve the first victory in the war on terrorism. The passengers and crew of Flight 93 will be permanently honored at the Flight 93 National Memorial, set at the site where their final struggle ended in a rural field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The Flight 93 National Memorial was created by an act passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush on September 24, 2002. “This peaceful place was not chosen by the terrorists — they had other targets for their violence and hate. This spot was chosen by the passengers of Flight 93, who spared our country from even greater horrors.” — Former First Lady Laura Bush
concrete walkway denoting the plane’s final flight path. A series of benches and trees will create a chapel-like setting for peaceful contemplation. The Field of Honor is the largest and most prominent of the Memorial’s unique design features. Measuring a half-mile in diameter and adjacent to the memorial plaza, the bowl-shaped Field links the entire Memorial through sightlines and pathways. The Entry Portal is the opening to the Flight 93 National Memorial. The portal will be marked by two parallel concrete walls that trace the final trajectory of Flight 93 as it descended toward the crash site. Visitors approaching the Entry Portal will pass through its twin walls along a symbolic black walkway called the Flight Path. Immediately visitors will be brought back to 10:03 a.m. on September 11, 2001 when Flight 93
rial Groves along the perimeter of one-half of the Field of Honor. Each grove will contain 40 trees, such as sugar or red maples, for a total of 1,600 trees that radiate toward the center of the Field. An allée of trees, a walking path, and a road for vehicles will frame the Memorial Groves. A large area just below the entry portal overlooks the western edge of the impact site of Flight 93 and provides a key vantage point to view the entire Memorial site. The Tower of Voices will dramatically mark the main entrance to the Flight 93 National Memorial from Route 30. Reaching 93 feet into the air, the Tower will feature 40 wind chimes for each of the passengers and crewmembers and serve as an audible reminder of their selfless act of courage in the final moments of Flight 93.
Tower of Voices – Courtesy: Paul Murdoch Architects and Alexsander Novak-Zemplinski
programs. Engaging exhibitions will be an important part of the visitor experience. The drama and tragedy of Flight 93 will be chronicled using the latest audio and video technology, primary source materials, photographs, and oral history testimony from those who were there, including family members, first responders, volunteers, and local residents. Learn more at:
9/11 Facts
• Each of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center had a jet fuel capacity of nearly 24,000 gallons. • All civilian air traffic was banned from landing on U.S. soil for two days. • Among the fatalities were 346 New York City Fire Department firefighters, 23 New York City Police Department officers, and 37 Port Authority Police Department officers. • Cantor Fitzgerald L.P., an investment bank on the 101st105th floors of One World Trade Center, lost more employees than any other firm: 658. • Approximately 16,000 people were below the impact zones in the World Trade Center at the time of the attacks, most of whom evacuated before the towers collapsed. • 7 WTC, 6 WTC, 5 WTC, 4 WTC the WTC Marriott Hotel (3 WTC) and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church were also destroyed in the attacks. • Mohamed Atta’s luggage, which did not make it onto American Airlines Flight 11, contained a will and 757/767 flight manuals. • Unlike many stereotypes of hijackers or terrorists, most of the attackers were educated and came from well-to-do backgrounds. • The New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and NASDAQ did not open on September 11 and remained closed until September 17. • 2,880 victim’s compensation awards were issued to the families of those killed.
Understanding 9/11
Foundations of Islam
Islam (a word that literally means “surrender to the will of God”) arose in Arabia with what Muslims believe are a series of revelations to the Prophet Mohammed from the one and only God, the God of Abraham and of Jesus. These revelations, conveyed by the angel Gabriel, are recorded in the Qur’an (sometimes titled Koran). Muslims believe that these revelations, given to the greatest and last of a chain of prophets stretching from Abraham through Jesus, complete God’s message to humanity. The Hadith, which recount Mohammed’s sayings and deeds as recorded by his contemporaries, are another fundamental source. A third key element is the Sharia, the code of law derived from the Qur’an and the Hadith. Islam is divided into two main branches, Sunni and Shia. Soon after the Prophet’s death, the question arose of choosing a new leader, or Caliph, for the Muslim community, or Ummah. Initially, his successors could be drawn from the Prophet’s contemporaries, but with time, this was no longer possible. Those who became the Shia held that any leader must be a direct descendant of the Prophet; those who became the Sunni argued that lineal descent was not required if the candidate met other standards of faith and knowledge. After bloody struggles, the Sunni became (and remain) the majority sect. (The Shia are dominant in Iran.) The Caliphate – the institutionalized leadership of the Ummah – thus was a Sunni institution that continued until 1924, first under Arab and eventually under Ottoman Turkish control. Many Muslims look back at the century after the revelations to the Prophet Mohammed as a golden age. duct for all aspects of life. For many Muslims, a good government would be one guided by the moral principles of their faith. This does not necessarily translate into a desire for clerical rule and the abolition of a secular state. It does mean that some Muslims tend to be uncomfortable with distinctions between religion and state, though Muslim rulers throughout history have readily separated the two. To extremists, such divisions, as well as Denouncing waywardness among the faithful, some clerics have appealed for a return to observance of the literal teachings of the Qur’an and Hadith. One scholar from the fourteenth century from whom Osama bin Laden quoted, Ibn Taimiyyah, condemned both corrupt rulers and the clerics who failed to criticize them. He urged Muslims to read the Qur’an and the Hadith for themselves, not to depend solely on learned interpreters like himself
Ayman al Zawahiri & Osama bin Laden. Credit: AP.
but to hold one another to account for the quality of their observance. The Islamist extremist version of history blames the decline from Islam’s golden age on the rulers and people who turned away from the true path of their religion, thereby leaving Islam vulnerable to encroaching foreign powers eager to steal their land, wealth, and even their souls.
A Declaration of War by al Qaeda
In February 1998, the 40-year-old Saudi exile Osama bin Laden and a fugitive Egyptian physician, Ayman al Zawahiri, arranged from their Afghan headquarters of al Qaeda for an Arabic newspaper in London to publish what they termed a fatwa issued in the name of a “World Islamic Front.” A fatwa is normally an interpretation of Islamic law by a respected Islamic authority. Neither bin Laden, Zawahiri, nor the three others who signed this statement were scholars of Islamic law. Claiming that America had declared war against God and his messenger, they called for the murder of any American, anywhere on earth, as the “individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it.”
Rise of Islamist Extremism
The ensuing centuries after the golden age of Islam saw the rise in power of European nations and then the United States of America, with Western culture and values becoming dominant on the world stage. The dominance of Western powers and ideals led to feelings of resentment among Muslims, many of whom felt oppressed, many of whom lived in poverty, many of whom embraced values at odds with those of a Western culture that they felt had become increasingly materialistic. Islam is both a faith and a code of con-
The Qur’an
the existence of parliaments and legislation, only prove these rulers to be false Muslims usurping God’s authority over all aspects of life. Periodically, the Islamic world has seen surges of what is often labeled “fundamentalism.”
Three months later, when interviewed in Afghanistan by ABC-TV, bin Laden enlarged on these themes. He claimed it was more important for Muslims to kill Americans than to kill other infidels.“It is far better for anyone to kill a single American soldier than to squander his efforts on other activities,” he said. Asked whether he approved of terrorism and of attacks on civilians, he replied:“We believe that the worst thieves in the world today and the worst terrorists are the Americans. Nothing could stop you except perhaps retaliation in kind. We do not have to differentiate between military or civilian. As far as we are concerned, they are all targets.” How did bin Laden – with his call for the indiscriminate killing of Americans – win thousands of followers and some degree of approval from millions more? The history, culture, and body of beliefs from which bin Laden has shaped and spread his message are largely unknown to many Americans. Seizing on symbols of Islam’s past greatness, he promised to restore pride to people who consider themselves the victims of successive foreign masters. He used cultural and religious allusions to the holy Qur’an
ists who blame the eventual destruction of the Caliphate on leaders who abandoned the pure path of religious devotion. He repeatedly called on his followers to embrace martyrdom since “the walls of oppression and humiliation cannot be demolished except in a rain of bullets.” For those yearning for a lost sense of order in an older, more tranquil world, he offered his “Caliphate” as an imagined alternative to today’s uncertainty. For others, he offered simplistic conspiracies to explain their world. Bin Laden also relied heavily on the Egyptian writer Sayyid Qutb, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood executed in 1966 on charges of attempting to overthrow the government. Qutb mixed Islamic scholarship with a very superficial acquaintance with Western history and thought. Sent by the Egyptian government to study in the United States in the late 1940s, Qutb returned with an enormous loathing of Western society and history. He dismissed Western achievements as entirely material, arguing that Western society possesses “nothing that will satisfy its own conscience and justify its existence.”
U.S.S. Cole after October 2000 attack. Courtesy Department of Defense.
and some of its interpreters. He appealed to people disoriented by enormous change as they confront modernity and globalization. His rhetoric selectively drew from multiple sources and centers on recurrent themes – Islam, history, and the region’s political and economic malaise. He also stressed several grievances against the United States throughout some segments of the Muslim world. He inveighed against the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam’s holiest sites. He spoke of the suffering of the Iraqi people as a result of sanctions imposed after the Gulf War, and he protested U.S. support of Israel.
Many Americans have wondered, “Why do ‘they’ hate us?” Some also ask, “What can we do to stop these attacks?” Bin Laden and al Qaeda have given answers to both these questions. To the first, they say that America had attacked Islam; America is responsible for all conflicts involving Muslims. Thus Americans are blamed when Israelis fight with Palestinians, when Russians fight with Chechens, when Indians fight with Kashmiri Muslims, and when the Philippine government fights ethnic Muslims in its southern islands. America is also held responsible for the governments of Muslim countries, derided by al Qaeda as “your agents.” Bin Laden stated flatly, “Our fight against these governments is not separate from our fight against you.” These charges found a ready audience among millions of
Bin Laden’s Worldview
Despite his claims to universal leadership, bin Laden offered an extreme view of Islamic history designed to appeal mainly to Arabs and Sunnis. He drew on fundamental-
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7 buildings in the complex 110 stories in each twin tower 1,368 feet high – the North Tower (1 WTC) 1,362 feet high – the South Tower (2 WTC) 3 WTC: Marriott Hotel – 22 Floors 4 WTC: 9 Floors 5 WTC: 9 Floors 6 WTC: US Customs House – 8 Floors 7 WTC: 47 Floors 12,000,000 square feet of rentable space in the World Trade Center 1 acre of rentable space on each floor of the Twin Towers 7 underground levels – included services, shopping, and a subway station 200,000 tons of steel used in the construction of the Twin Towers 425,000 cubic yards of concrete used in the construction of the WTC complex 43,600 windows in the Twin Towers 99 elevators in each tower 70 feet of foundation excavated so the Twin Towers could rest on solid bedrock 3,500 people worked at the site during peak construction 250,000 tons – the weight of each of the Twin Towers
detonated approximately 1,200 pounds of explosives in a rental van in the underground parking garage at the World Trade Center (WTC), below the Vista Hotel (3 WTC). The terrorists fled the area after setting the bomb to explode. The explosion created a five-story crater in the sub-grade levels of the towers and undermined the floor of the adjoining hotel. The terrorist attack on the WTC killed six people: four members of the Port Authority’s World Trade Department, a Windows on the World employee; and a visitor to the complex. Over a thousand people were injured, including 88 firefighters, 35 police officers, and one EMS worker.
How-To Guide for Schools: Commemorating September 11, 2001
The tragic events of September 11, 2001 changed the U.S., and the world, forever. For those who were old enough to watch those events unfold, that day and the aftermath of the attacks has left an indelible mark. For those too young to remember, the legacy of 9/11 shapes their lives as a central event in history. Many schools will want to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of September 11, 2001 and find ways to honor and remember those who lost their lives. HISTORY offers this guide to provide suggestions for 9/11 activities and commemorations. lege students can also review the 9/11 Commission Report. 2. Have students take time for a free-writing exercise about what they remember about 9/11/2001, or what they have learned about that day from others. Have students share these writings, if they feel comfortable, in a larger class or group. 3. Creative projects can be an effective way for students to work through their emotions about difficult topics such as 9/11. Working in small groups, have students design a mural or poster about 9/11 and what it means to them. Students may also want to design their own 9/11 memorial. 4. Have students locate newspaper articles published in the days after 9/11 online or at the library and create a 9/11 scrapbook or notebook. The New York State Archives 9/11 Memory & History site has great tips for preserving related items: 5. Middle school and high school students can play a role in preserving the history of 9/11 by interviewing community members about their memories of what happened that day. You may want to link with a local history museum or historic society to organize a 9/11 oral history project.
1998 Bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania
On the morning of August 7 bomb-laden trucks drove into the U.S. Embassies – about 10:30 a.m. in Nairobi, Kenya and 10:39 a.m. in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The attack on the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi destroyed the Embassy and killed 12 Americans and 201 others, almost all Kenyans. Over 4,000 people were injured. The attack on the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam killed 11 more people, none of them Americans. Interviewed later about the deaths of the Africans, bin Laden answered “when it becomes apparent that it would be impossible to repel these Americans without assaulting them, even if this involved the killing of Muslims, this is permissible under Islam.” Asked if he had indeed masterminded these bombings, bin Laden said that the World Islamic Front for jihad against “Jews and Crusaders” had issued a “crystal clear” fatwa. If the instigation for jihad against the Jews and the Americans to liberate the holy places “is considered a crime,” he said,“let history be a witness that I am a criminal.”
1. Organize an all-school assembly with simple readings or announcements about why we should remember 9/11 and those who lost their lives. Since September 11th falls on a Sunday, schools may want to organize these assemblies on Friday, September 9th or Monday, September 12th. 2. Many communities were affected by 9/11 and lost family and friends in this tragedy. If any children at your school lost family members or friends, dedicate a memorial or plant a tree to honor those who were lost. 3. Many brave Americans – from firefighters to police to everyday citizens— courageously helped others on 9/11 and in the aftermath of the attacks. Schools may want to establish a “Community Spirit Award” to honor those in your community who have contributed to making your school a better place. These awards can be offered in honor of the outpouring of sacrifice and generosity after 9/11 that so many Americans remember. 4. Collect small contributions for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, the Flight 93 National Memorial, the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, or another 9/11 Memorial of your choice. 5. Another way to honor the memory of 9/11 is for students to donate time through service projects. Visit Service Nation or Operation Honor Cards to get started, or organize a service project at your school or nearby.
HISTORY: Documenting 9/11
HISTORY has produced several important specials that capture the experiences of those who lived through 9/11. These programs also give context for the timeline of events and insight gathered in the aftermath. Access classroom guides to many of these programs at: Programs: 102 Minutes That Changed America, The Day the Towers Fell, Making the 9/11 Memorial (Premieres September 2011), 9/11: State of Emergency, and Relics from the Rubble
HISTORY: Videos, Interactives, & Photos: National September 11 Memorial & Museum: www. & 9/11 Commission: 9/11 National Day of Service: 9/11 Timeline: A & E – Flight 93: Bio Channel: Center for History and New Media: Flight 93 National Memorial: & National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial: & September 11 Education Trust: Smithsonian Institution: Story Corps: Television Archive: Tribute WTC Visitor Center: Voices of September 11th:
2000, U.S.S. Cole
On Thursday, October 12, 2000, while refueling at a port in Aden, Yemen, the U.S. Navy destroyer Cole was attacked by two suicide bombers navigating a small motorboat full of explosives. The explosion occurred around 11:18 a.m. local time, killing 17 crewmembers and wounding 39 others. Witnesses later said the boat, which sidled up along the ship’s port side, came so close prior to the explosion that sailors aboard the USS Cole exchanged greetings with the two suicide bombers, who stood at attention just before the explosives detonated. The explosion occurred as crewmembers had begun lining up for lunch in the galley, and blew a hole 40 feet wide in the side of the ship. The blast was likely caused, CIA officials believe, by a “shape charge,” explosives molded into the hull of the boat.
1. In classroom time, have students review a timeline of what occurred on September 11, 2001. Review on a map where and when the 9/11 attacks took place. Advanced high school and col-
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