Fourteen years ago some 19 unidentified, but probably Al-Qaeda-related, hijackers seized control of four aircraft and flew two of them into the New York World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon Building outside of Washington DC, and crashed the last one into a field in Pennsylvania.
The attacks begot a death toll of over 3,000 people, 343 of who were New York City firefighters, and all of which were wives, mothers, daughters, fathers, husbands, sons, friends, and so on.
The first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, reached its target at about 8:45 AM and crashed into the north tower, leaving a gaping, fiery hole and instantly killing several hundred while trapping even more people on higher floors. Then, at about 9:03am, a second airplane – United Airlines Flight 175 – crashed into the south tower, which later caused it to collapse, according to official releases.
Surrounding areas were bombarded by debris and rubble falling of the buildings, and clouds of smoke reached miles-high into the sky – for the first time in a long time, America experienced acts of war on its own soil. About an hour after the first plane hit – around 9:45am – a third plane was flown into the Pentagon Military Headquarters just outside Washington DC, killing 125 of the staff, injuring many more, and causing the building to collapse.
The fourth plane – United Flight 93 – was delayed, meaning that the passengers knew what was going on in the country at that point already. When their hijackers told them that they were not going back to an airport, an attack was planned by the passengers. According to official releases and phone conversations, some men and women got some boiling water and fire extinguishers and made their way to the cockpit, attempting to regain control of the aircraft. When the attack was carried out, the plane was reportedly seen spinning upside down and then crashing into a field in western Pennsylvania. The hijackers’ initial target for this aircraft remains unknown, but possibilities include the White House, the Capitol, the presidential summer retreat, or any of the nuclear plants on the eastern seaboard.
The crashes began a fierce war on terrorism, leading to the invasion of Afghanistan and later Iraq. The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists that George Bush issued back then is still in effect and followed by Obama, who had Bin-Laden, alleged mastermind behind the attacks, killed in May 2012.
The scale of these attacks marked a sickening new magnitude of terrorist threats, and as such spawned a wave of conspiracy theories, which are certain to experience a new surge in popularity on the anniversary of these attacks. This fact truly shows how despicable and inhumane many media outlets are nowadays. Instead of talking about the people who died, about the families who suffered, about the brave men and women trying to help others at the cost of their own lives, some journalists apparently prefer to rehash decades-old conspiracy theories and get people all riled up about either terrorists or the government or the illuminati or reptile aliens or whatever.
Now naturally, I am not one to say that you shouldn’t question official press releases or ask questions, but you can do that all year long – why not take this sad anniversary and use it mourn those that passed and honor those that fought to help others during this atrocious catastrophe?
There are people like Mark Bingham who, for example, was reportedly one of the four passengers on United Flight 93 that planned the insurgency and managed to overpower the hijackers at the cost of their and everybody else’s life. Then there are firefighters like Steven Salzano who, despite survivor’s guilt and PTSD, still do their job day by day although many of their colleagues died that day. The firefighters and the paramedics are everyday people who did their very best to rescue the poor people stuck under the rubble and in those buildings. Why aren’t their names as popular as that of Osama Bin-Laden?
We should take this day not to hate the terrorists, not to blame the government, not to indulge in narcissistic theories about what went down, but rather to mourn the poor souls who lost their lives on that day.
I get that these attacks caused a lot of hate in the more patriotic souls. I get that these attacks confirmed the conspiracy theories of many a tin-foil hat wearing person. But what I don’t get is how these two emotions can overpower the tremendous feeling of sadness and empathy for the victims and their families. How can’t the first thing you think of be those people?
Anyhow. There is a certain mystique clouding these happenings, and it is certainly true that some groups profited from it more than others and that some people were wrongly blamed and attacked because of it. But the essence of what happened is that some assholes hijacked four planes and killed over 3,000 people with them, and that is just horrible. Nothing can explain that kind of behavior, nothing can justify it.
The inhumanity and cruelness of these attacks lacks a comparison. It was a political attack that targeted nothing but civilians and whose only objective was to frighten the population and act as a show of force to the American government. There is literally nothing more crude imaginable than hurting thousands of civilians in order to advance your own ends, and I cannot comprehend how human beings are capable of such atrocities.
I just hope that some of you realize that if we call upon others to be hurt for their actions, we are not much better than them – so at least today, let us not dwell on our hatred and our suspicions, but let us remember those that passed, those that were lost during these fiery crashes that sucker-punched an entire nation and whose effects still linger until this day.