America, God mend thine ev’ry flaw
On September 11, 2001, we were one year into the new millennium and just one week past Labor Day, the “working men’s” holiday long known for leisurely family fun at backyard barbecues and beaches nationwide.
Little did any of us know how much our nation would change at 8:45 a.m., September 11, 2001. It was a Tuesday morning, and the first American Airlines airplane flew into a tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.
As people evacuated that building and its twin tower in front of a national television audience, 18 minutes later a United Airlines airplane flew into the second tower. The second crash caused an enormous explosion with billows of smoke, flames and debris scattering for blocks.
We watched in shock and fear as planes were used as weapons of war to attack America on her soil.
Glued to our televisions and radios, we were entranced by the horror unfolding in New York City.
At 9:45 a.m. another American Airlines plane flew into the Pentagon building in Washington, D.C.
Less than 30 minutes after our nation’s military headquarters was attacked, the World Trade towers collapsed.
Americans and the world watched helplessly as people trapped in the burning buildings teetered on window ledges, making the unimaginable decision to leap over 100 stories down to the sidewalk below instead of facing the choking smoke and deadly flames rapidly consuming the buildings.
Meanwhile, yet another United plane was hijacked, and passengers and flight staff, who by this time had learned of the day’s previous events, courageously fought the terrorists aboard the flight. The plane flipped over and crashed into a rural field in Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m., killing all on board.
Over 3,000 people were lost September 11, 2011, including 343 NYC firefighters and paramedics, 23 NYC police officers, and 37 Port Authority police officers, killed attempting to evacuate people out of the burning twin towers.
Nearly 10,000 people sustained numerous injuries.
Locally, neighbors came together in Columbus to console one another with a prayer service at the Colorado County courthouse.
Cities across the country scrambled into action, uncertain if they would be next in the slew of attacks. Airports and public transportation nationwide came to a screeching halt, and buildings were evacuated in several major cities.
Terrorists from Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations lived in the United States for over a year and learned to fly aircrafts at American flight schools. Other terrorists who were part of the attack came into America in the months prior to the Sept. 11 attack.
A total of 19 terrorists armed with box cutters and knives boarded four flights and changed America forever.
In those hours and days to follow, we were no longer Democrats or Republicans, gay or straight, Black or white, officers or civilians – we were humans. We were Americans, and we joined hands and pleaded with God to bless America – to stand beside her, and guide her through the night with His light from above.
In a televised speech later that night, President George W. Bush said, “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”
President Bush proclaimed Sept. 11, 2002 as the first Patriot Day.
Each year, Sept. 11 is known as Patriot Day, observed as a national day of service and remembrance for those Americans lost in the 2001 attacks.
“I know we’re all going to die. There’s three of us who are going to do something about it. I love you, honey.” – Thomas Burnett, Jr., passenger of United flight 93, speaking to his wife in the final minutes before the hijacked plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.