September 11, 2001: Fifteen Years Later

This structure is one of the two memorials built in place of the Twin Towers in Manhattan, New York City.

This structure is one of the two memorials built in place of the Twin Towers in Manhattan, New York City.

Abby Marks, Staff Writer

Every American knows the history of Sept 11, 2001. It was a normal day for many, they went to work in New York City, entered the World Trade Center, and checked into their jobs. Around 8:45 on a bright Tuesday morning, American Airlines Boeing 767 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center near the 80th floor. It was just a ‘freak accident’ on the minds of many at first. Hundreds of innocent businessmen, chefs, waitresses, and bosses working on upper floors were trapped, stuck in the black smoke. Citizens inside of the building called their families; they did not see a way out. Just 18 minutes later, a second Boeing 767 (United Airlines flight 175) appeared in the city’s morning sky. It turned sharply left and sliced the South Tower near the 60th floor. Hundreds more innocent citizens were trapped in the South building. The collision caused an explosion, showering Manhattan with debris and fire. Around 10:30 p.m., the towers collapsed. It became clear that this was no ‘freak accident’. The United States of America was under attack.

It later came to the country’s attention what exactly was going on. Nineteen people associated with an Islamic terrorist group, the al-Qaeda, from Saudi Arabia hijacked four United States Airlines airplanes. The leader of the group, named Osama Bin Laden, was later hunted down and killed in 2011. Allegedly, the attacks were made in retaliation to our support of Israel during the Persian Gulf War. The terrorists smuggled box cutters and knives onto planes bound for California. Some of the men had been taking flight lessons in America and lived in the country for years. Soon after takeoff, the men forced the pilots out of the way and made a deadly detour. They carried out a suicide mission, one plane targeting the Pentagon at 9:45 a.m. and two targeting the World Trade Center; the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. The passengers on board had learned about the attacks and ran to first class in efforts of stopping the terrorists. The intended target of that plane is not officially known, but many believe it was headed towards the U.S Capitol and the White House. This remains the deadliest attack on America since Pearl Harbor, where a whopping 3,000 citizens were killed in the crash and flames, 400 of those being police officers and firefighters.

Although these attacks took place in the northeastern part of America, people from all over the U.S and globe were affected. One of these people is North Forsyth High School freshman Josh Sexton. Sexton was about a month and a half old at the time of the attacks. His father was meant to be in the World Trade Center at the time of the attacks, but delayed his business meeting one day in order to stay with his newborn son for one more night. On that Tuesday morning, Mr. Sexton was in a cab coming from the airport and was crossing the Brooklyn Bridge when the first plane hit. Had he flown up the night before, as he had previously planned, he would have been in the tower rather than in the cab. Josh says that he was not aware of the fact that he could have lost his father on 9/11 until about the 3rd grade, when his father thought Josh was mature enough to understand what actually happened on that day.

“I have a good relationship with my father,” Josh expressed, “it just made me, I guess, more grateful and more mournful for those who have lost their parents whether in the 9/11 attacks or from any other situation.” Josh is aware that his father’s name could have been one of those engraved on the memorial that was built in the place of the buildings. As one can imagine, knowing that their father could have been one of the thousands killed in this attack is distressing. So many people lost their mothers, aunts. fathers, uncles, nieces, nephews, sons, daughters, friends, cousins, and more. Even 15 years after the incident, Sept. 11 is a day of mourning and loss, a memorial service and moment of silence for the lives lost is held every year where a list of victims is read and family of lost loved ones attend and give tributes to their relatives that they lost. Josh’s family has not yet visited the tear-jerking memorial, but plan to in the future.

Since 9/11, the United States has been taking precautions, most noticeably in the airports. There are restrictions on items that people can bring onto planes. Liquids and toiletries must be a certain size, and they must be in a sealed, clear plastic bag. Also, no food or bottled water is allowed through security. Passengers may be selected at random for more intense screenings. The extra security precautions include x-rays and pat downs; they can go through passenger’s luggage and x-ray them as well. Cockpit doors on airplanes are much more protective and heavy since the attacks. There was a No Fly List before 9/11, but now the list is much more extensive today. All of these efforts combine to make flying much safer now in 2016.

As for Josh, he lives happily with a complete family. In his words, “it [9/11] hasn’t changed my family, I just feel grateful that God saved him because if he had not my life would be completely different.” Every year, this date is the anniversary of the worst attack on America in history. Sept. 11, 2001 is a date that will forever live on in the minds and hearts.