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World Trade Center September 11th 2001

An opinionated four-page essay that summarizes and questions various events that went on during 9/11/01. Also looks back at the life of the World Trade Center.

One of the worst tragedies to ever strike our country happened on September 11th, 2001. A total of four (4) planes were brought down by terrorists causing 2,986 total fatalities. The terrorist attacks were organized by al-Qaeda and their leader Osama Bin Laden, who also was in charge of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City. This event took place in the same location but caused much more devastation with 2,595 people losing their lives just from the Twin Towers on 9/11. Two (2) of the four planes crashed into the World Trade Center, one in each tower, bursting the towers into flames and people fleeing for their lives.

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An estimated two-hundred (200) people jumped to their deaths from the falling towers. However, while all of this was going on, President George Bush was having a visit with an elementary school in Sarasota, Florida. What made it even worse was that Bush was completely aware of the attacks that terrorists had done against the United States of America. So then why, at 9:03 a.m.—fifteen minutes after it was clear the United States was under terrorist attack—did President Bush sit down with a classroom of second-graders and begin a 20-minute pre-planned photo op? No one knows the answer to that question. In fact, no one has even asked Bush about it.

However, we can clearly make out that the government response was poor to this event but that may have been since Washington, D.C. had problems on their own. A plane had crashed into the Pentagon causing a total of 189 deaths. There was one plane, Flight 93, that knew they were next to be hijacked so they did something about it. The passengers of Flight 93 fought back against the terrorists and prevented them from the plane reaching its intended target, instead of crashing it into a field outside of Shanksville, PA. The 9/11 attacks were not the first that the World Trade Center had been a victim of, the towers were bombed for the first time on February 26, 1993. If the towers had already been bombed once before, why were we not ready for another attack on the same site? What possible motive did the terrorists have? The courage that survivors and helpers possessed brought our country together as it had never been before. The tragic attacks were “cowardly acts” that made “victims of us all.”

In 1966, construction of the World Trade Center began with a groundbreaking that razed 13 square blocks of low rise buildings, some of which predated the US Civil War. In 1970, construction was completed on World Trade Center One, with its first tenants moving into the building in December 1970. Tenants first moved into World Trade Center Two in January 1972. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was on April 4th, 1973. Ultimately the complex came to consist of seven buildings, but its most notable features were the main twin towers. On any given day, some 50,000 people worked in the towers with another 200,000 passing through as visitors. The complex was so large that it had its own ZIP Code; 10048. Each of the WTC towers had 110 stories. Tower One (the North Tower, which featured a massive antenna) stood 1,368 feet high, and Tower Two (the South Tower, which contained the observation deck) was 1,362 feet high.

The length and breadth of the towers were 208 feet x 208 feet. When the towers were completed in 1972 and 1973, respectively, they were the tallest buildings in the world, 100 feet taller than the Empire State Building. However, the WTC towers held the height record only briefly. As the building neared completion in 1973, work had already begun on Chicago’s Sears Tower, which ultimately reached 1,450 feet. With the World Trade Center’s destruction, the Empire State Building again became the tallest building in New York, after spending almost 30 years as the third-tallest.

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Each tower had 3.8 million square feet of office space, ample room for companies to set up shop. Altogether the entire complex of seven buildings had 11.2 million square feet (1.04 km²) of space. During the 1990s some 500 companies, especially financial firms, had offices in the complex. The twin towers were also the first supertall buildings to use sky lobbies, spaces where commuters can switch from an express elevator that goes only to the sky lobbies to a local elevator that goes to each floor in a section.

Located on the 44th and 78th floors of each tower, those sky lobbies enabled the elevators (each tower had 104) to be used efficiently while taking up a minimum of valuable office space. One of the world’s largest gold depositories was stored underneath the World Trade Center, owned by a group of commercial banks. The 1993 bomb detonated close to the vault, but it withstood the explosion, as did the towers. Although the majority of space in the WTC complex was off-limits to the general public, 1 WTC (north tower) had a restaurant on the 107th floor, and 2 WTC (south tower) featured a public observation area.

When visiting the observation deck, visitors would first pass through security checks. Next, visitors have whisked to the 107th floor indoor observatory and greeted with a 360-degree view of the New York City skyline. Weather-permitting, visitors could take two short escalator rides up from the 107th floor and visit what was the world’s highest outdoor viewing platform. At a height of 1,377 feet, visitors were able to take in a view of the North Tower and New York City unlike any other.

September 11th, 2001 started out as any other ordinary day for the world but at 8:46 a.m. everything changed. Forty seconds after the clock struck 8:46 a.m. on September 11th, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. Millions of news stations around the country tuned and witnessed a huge cloud of smoke and fire come from the north tower. Five hijackers were believed to be on Flight 11, which had taken off from Logan Airport in Boston at 7:59 AM.

The plane was scheduled to land in Los Angeles, CA but made a turn straight towards New York City near Albany, NY. Ironically, the hijackers on-board the plane had already flown from Portland, Maine to Boston, MA earlier that morning. With the world tuned in and watching the whole event develop, United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m. It was one of those moments when words couldn’t describe what just happened, it was all so quick and all happened so fast, it has hard to take in the terror and reality of the event. Once again, Flight 175 was also headed on its normal route from Boston to Los Angeles but made a major u-turn as it entered Pennsylvania.

There were reports that the passengers were planning on storming the cockpit to prevent the hijackers from completing their mission but it seemed like no such intervention took place. The huge cloud of fire and smoke, as a result of the impact from the plane crash, was like nothing people had ever seen. Everything else going on in the world seemed to be shut out, forgotten about, because we were witnessing evil right in front of us. Firefighters and policemen hurried to the scene at the towers hoping the save all the lives that they could. It was a time where everyone showed the courage and pride of being an American. Valiant efforts were made to evacuate everyone in the surrounding area, as the firefighters and several other helpers tried to rescue those that they could.

However, all hopes of more rescues were completely broken when at 9:59 a.m. the south tower of the World Trade Center collapses. It had stood for 56 minutes and 10 seconds since the impact by Flight 175. As the roar of the collapse goes silent, tremendous gray-white clouds of pulverized concrete and gypsum rush through the streets. Most observers think a new explosion or impact has produced smoke and debris that now obscures the south tower. When the wind finally clears the immediate space, it is plain to see that there is no tower. Thousands of people further escape the scene from the poisonous smoke and the fear of the second tower collapsing. At 10:28 a.m. that fear becomes reality, the north tower finally collapses after nearly standing for two hours since it got hit. It collapsed from the top down, as if being peeled apart. It was probably due to the destruction of the gypsum-encased stairwells on the impact floors, no one in the impact zone of the north tower survived.

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The collapse is seen on live tv and heard on the radio, Aaron Brown of CNN news was in New York City at the time of each of the collapses. His actual words, as we saw the south tower collapse, were, “. . .but just look at that, that is about as frightening a scene as you will ever see.” Then when the second tower (the north tower) collapsed, “good lord…there are no words.” What Aaron Brown said pretty much said it all about this day, its somber mood and its frightening aspect. It was a time when we all united as a country, and said, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

What went wrong on this tragic day? Why were we the victim of such an act of terrorism? Just as Flight 11 took off from Boston’s Logan International Airport at 7:59 a.m. problems arouse. At approximately 8:13, Flight 11 was instructed by air traffic controllers at the FAA’s Boston Center, in Nashua, New Hampshire, to climb to 35,000 feet. The plane did not obey the order and its transponder was turned off. Air traffic control manager Glenn Michael said, “we considered it at that time to be a possible hijacking.” If air traffic controllers believed Flight 11 had been hijacked at 8:13, NORAD should have been informed immediately, so military planes could be scrambled to investigate. However, NORAD and the FAA both claimed NORAD was not informed until 8:40—27 minutes later.

Some employees say that NORAD was notified as early as 8:21 a.m., if this is true, it would mean that NORAD did absolutely nothing for almost thirty minutes while a hijacked commercial airliner flew off course through some of the most congested airspaces in the world. Presumably, that would warrant some very serious charges. Again, no one associated with NORAD or the FAA has been punished. At the time that a passenger on Flight 11 was stabbed, President Bush finished his regular morning briefing and headed for an elementary school in Florida. Official accounts, including the words of Bush himself, say Bush was first told of what was happening in New York City after he arrived at the school.

There are at least four reports that Bush was told of the first crash before he arrived at the school. Many other reports also point to that it was nearly impossible for Bush to still be unaware of the situation before he arrived at the school because he did not arrive at the school before 8:55 a.m., nearly ten minutes after the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. He should of skipped his visit at the school, got on a plane to fly back to Washington or made some kind of statement before the second plane hit, not 45 minutes after the first plane hit. How could Bush have ignored the event and remained so ignorant? No one has dared to ask him and therefore we don’t know the answer. However, we think that why know why we were a target of terrorism and who was responsible for it.

The United States Government determined (in part based on classified information) that al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden bear responsibility for the attacks. Bin Laden initially denied, but later admitted involvement in the incidents. He had earlier declared a holy war against the United States and this is seen as a motive for the 9/11 attacks. In 2004, he admitted his direct link to the attacks. He said that the attacks were carried out because, “we are a free people who do not accept injustice, and we want to regain the freedom of our nation.” Their motivation to conduct such an attack against the U.S.A came from the U.S. support of Israel, the U.S. occupation of the Arabian Peninsula, and the U.S. aggression against the Iraqi people. The motivation was described in a 1998 fatwa issued by Osama bin Laden and several others.

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The fatwa said that the above (three reasons) were three “crimes and sins committed by the Americans.” The fatwa also states that the United States; plunders the resources of the Arabian Peninsula, dictates policy to the rulers of those countries, supports abusive regimes and monarchies in the Middle East and thereby oppressing their people. It also says that the U.S.; has military bases and installations upon the Arabian Peninsula, which violates the Muslim holy land, in order to threaten neighbouring Muslim countries, intends thereby to create disunion between Muslim states, thus weakening them as a political force, and supports Israel, and wishes to divert international attention from (and tacitly maintain) the occupation of Palestine. I still do not believe that any of those is a legit reason for taking the lives of nearly three thousand (3000) people, crashing four (4) planes, on which no one survived.

“Nothing that I can say will make you feel any better, nothing that I say will be as powerful as what you are seeing right now.” The September 11th, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Flight 93 were as devastating as any single attack can be. “I have never seen such mourn and grief in my whole life.” The amount of innocent people that lost their lives on that frightful day can never be forgotten and can’t be replaced. To those who risked their lives to save others, I say thank you. The bravery and courage shown on 9/11, both on the ground and in the air, showed al-Qaeda that one little attack will not separate or affect us as a country but rather bring us together and unite us more than ever before.

In a way, we made al-Qaeda’s mission unsuccessful, they can’t take away our pride and how proud we are to be part of this great country. Through the movie “United 93,” we can re-live the courage that the passengers had to rebel against the hijackers. They may have saved our Capitol because they knew that they were next but decided to do something about it. We shall always remember those who sacrificed their lives on 9/11 to save ours, those who stood up against evil, and those who took action. It will always be remembered as a day of grief and sorrow but it brought us, as a nation, together. On September 11th, we were the United States of America for the first time in a long time.

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