Never before in the history of the United States had a large-scale terrorist attack occurred on American soil until September 11, 2001, also known as 9/11. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives that day as a result of three suicide missions involving planes hitting important buildings.
Early on the morning of 9/11, four planes left their terminals but would never reach their intended destinations in California. Two crashed into the famous World Trade Center in New York. A third slammed into the Pentagon in Washington, DC. The fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.
Nineteen terrorists from Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations were reportedly financed by the al-Quaeda terrorist organization led by Osama bin Laden. It is believed the hijackers were getting revenge due to American support of Israel and our military action in the Middle East.
World Trade Center
At 8:45 a.m., the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center. Hundreds of people were instantly killed while hundreds more were trapped. Eighteen minutes later, the second plane – a Boeing 767, United Airlines Flight 175 – crashed into the south tower near the 60th floor. By 10:30 a.m., the north building of the twin towers collapsed.
In all, 2,763 people died at the World Trade Center. This includes 23 New York City police officers, 37 Port Authority police officers, and 343 firefighters and paramedics.
At 9:45 a.m., just one hour after the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the west side of US Department of Defense headquarters, also called the Pentagon. There were 64 people aboard the airplane who died in the crash, as well as 125 military personnel and civilians on the ground, causing a total of 189 deaths.
United Flight 93 had been delayed, and because of that, the passengers became aware via their cell phones that America was under attack. They were not surprised when the plane was hijacked about 40 minutes after leaving Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. The destination of this fourth and final attack is not known, but some guess that it could have been the White House.
Passengers aboard the plane decided not to let the terrorists gain control, even though they knew the possibility of surviving was not high. Flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw called her husband from the galley where she was filling pitchers with boiling water. Her last words to her husband were, “Everyone’s running to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye.”