Memories of 9-11 include pride
for nation's values
By Matt Lenio
December 12, 2006 | "Good evening. Today, our fellow
citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under
attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist
acts." These were the opening words spoken by President
George W. Bush during his address to the nation on the
evening of Sept. 11, 2001.
I was an 18-year-old freshman attending Utah State
University when disaster struck our great nation. After
rubbing my eyes in an attempt to wake up after a long
night out, I struggled to believe what my roommate,
who hunkered on the edge of his bed, was watching that
morning. I sat up to see reporters on the scene of one
of the world's most life-altering terrorist attacks.
Four planes were hijacked by 19 Islamic terrorists,
who were members of the organization al-Qaeda, led by
Osama bin Laden. At 8:45 a.m. in New York City, American
Airlines Flight 11, crashed into the north tower of
the World Trade Center, killing the 81 passengers and
11 crew members on board. Just 18 minutes after the
first plane had struck, United Airlines Flight 175 from
Boston crashed into the south building of the World
Trade Center. This second terrorist act left 56 passengers
and nine crew members dead.
Within five minutes of each other, both the north
and south towers collapsed an hour after being hit,
leaving a cloud of dust and debris. At 9:40 a.m., the
Federal Aviation Administration halted operations at
United States airports, for the first time in history.
Moments later, 58 passengers and six crew members were
killed on American Airlines Flight 77, after it crashed
into the Pentagon in our nation's capital.
At the time, I was living Mountain View Towers, a
boys-only dormitory that only housed out-of-state students.
As news of the terrorist attack spread, students who
had family or friends in New York City made desperate
phone calls home, trying to ensure that their loved
ones were OK. Many of us missed class that day, as we
huddled around the TV sets in our rooms, waiting to
learn what would happen to the country. The fact that
I had no family in New York gave me little comfort.
My parents live in the suburbs of Chicago, and frequently
traveled into downtown. With the World Trade towers
burning, the tallest building in the nation was Chicago's
own Sears Tower. It seemed a natural target for the
terrorists, and it was only miles away from my home.
Although the terrorists did not target another major
city, the carnage was not yet finished. That same morning,
United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Somerset County,
Penn., after it was hijacked. In addition to the hundreds
of people killed when the plane crashed into their offices,
hundreds more jumped to their deaths from the burning
towers, or died in the rubble of the Pentagon. By the
afternoon of that fateful Tuesday, New York Mayor Rudolph
Giuliani stated that more than 2,100 injuries had been
reported, and at least 200 people were left critical
condition. Aside from the 246 people killed on the four
planes, a total of 2,727 people, consisting of firefighters,
police officers, and pedestrians were killed because
of September 11th's terrorist attack.
Our great nation immediately pulled together after
the attacks made. Gratitude was shown towards uniformed
safety workers, approval of President George W. Bush
increased, and blood donations poured into agencies
like the Red Cross. As our nation's leader, President
Bush encouraged everyone to rely on God and to pray.
I think that governor of New York, George Pataki,
when deliberating 9/11, nailed it right on the head
when he said, "It had nothing to do, as some would have
us believe, with what America had done wrong. It had
everything to do with what America does right." I believe
that New York City was targeted because it represents
so much of what America stands for. It is the global
center of capitalism, and a place where people of every
race, religion and gender co-exist with equal rights.
The terrorists wanted Americans to hide that day,
to avoid the streets and the cities until the danger
passed. Instead, people gathered together to raise money,
donate blood, and in some cases, even help clear away
the rubble. By doing that, I think we turned what could
have been a victory for evil into a declaration to the
world of what our country believes in: freedom and brotherhood.
Fivers years later, our nation is still recovering
from the attacks made on September 11, 2001. Airport
screenings and homeland security threats may be a permanent
part of our lives, but we have held on to the values
that our country was founded on.
I believe President Bush said it best the night of
Sept. 11th, when he declared to the world, "This is
a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite
in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood
down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None
of us will ever forget this day. Yet, we go forward
to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our
world. Thank you. Good night, and God bless America."