September 11th: America’s Greatest Tragedy

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Tyler Olmo

Plumes of smoke rose high in the horizon, as there were two important pieces to the tapestry missing from New York’s famed skyline. Below, on the streets, terror reigned throughout the streets, sweeping across them like a plague. Screams and cries for help echoed throughout the city, forever branding those images in to the minds and hearts of all Americans. On a day of such tremendous loss and tragedy, heroes still rose from those ashes. Firefighters, police officers and even civilians ran in to that haze of smoke to risk their lives for those in dire need. But those brave heroes could not save everyone, for the events of 9/11 would send a shockwave through all of America that would be felt for years to come.

“Everyone was in shock. The kids came in quietly and we just watched as the towers crumbled. They were looking at me for answers and I had nothing to give them.

Shortly after 1st period, parents started to pick up their students from school, especially the Muslim parents. At that point, downtown Houston was being evacuated, as was NASA. The teachers and the students were calm, but many of us were very upset not really understanding what was going on or what to say,” said Monica Birtwistle, AP World History teacher.

On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the terrorist group Al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial airliners with the intent to carry out suicide attacks. Two of the flights, an American Airlines Boeing 767 and another 767 – United Airlines 157 – crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. Within this unnecessary destruction, 2,606 lives were claimed at Ground Zero and the surrounding area. In Washington D.C., American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon causing a massive fire to break out.

“It was hard to console or explain such acts to a group of high school students when I was trying to figure it out myself.  Everything was so sketchy for a while, and we were not exactly sure of what was really going on in our world at the moment.  We made calls to loved ones just to be sure,” said Eva Martin, Spanish 2 teacher.

Less than 15 minutes after the D.C. attack, horror struck when one of the Trade Centers collapsed, sending a cloak of ash and debris cascading down. In the next 30 minutes, the other tower would follow. On the last plane, passengers learned of the events of Washington D.C. and New York and led an insurgency against the hijackers of their plane. Sadly, their lives were lost as the plane crashed in to a rural field, leaving no survivors. The attacks left all of America thunderstruck and hyperaware of our vulnerabilities. Following the events, Al-Qeada leader Osama Bin Laden, revealed the group’s involvement and responsibility for the attacks.

“The best way to stay positive is to teach the world to the students and be realistic about the history, cultures, beliefs, religions, and why people don’t like America. It’s my opportunity to instill in students the ability to think critically about their place in this world and hopefully make a difference, whether it’s to prevent something like 9/11 from happening again or simply being more tolerant and understanding of the people they come in contact with in the Katy-Houston area,” said Birtwistle.

9/11 is a day of tremendous tragedy for all those who lived through it, have been affected by it, and know of those who were affected by it. From that day, however, the world united to come together and show support for one another. Not only did those planes carry Americans, they carried people from all around the world. 9/11 was not only an American tragedy, but a tragedy that was felt worldwide. On that day, humans were all reminded of something, that we are all each other’s neighbors. We learned from that day the true extent of what hate can make us do to one another, but we also learned how strong we all can be when united and in support of one another.