Do you remember where you were the moment you heard that a plane flew into one of the Twin Towers in New York City? Most of us cannot only remember where we were, but also the pure shock we felt when we saw the horrifying footage on television. It’s hard to believe that our country experienced the worst terror attack in history 16 years ago when it feels like just yesterday that we watched it all unfold with tears in our eyes and an indescribable fear that most have never experienced before.
A Look Back
September 11, 2001. On this day 16 years ago, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes, deliberately crashing them, causing the deaths of over 3,000 people. Just before 9:00 a.m. on September 11th, Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Shortly after, Flight 175 struck the South Tower. Approximately 18,000 people were inside the towers when the planes struck. Many were able to evacuate safely; however, a large number either died or sustained injuries. 2, 753 people will killed in New York City that day and two iconic buildings were destroyed beyond repair.
About an hour after the first plane struck the Twin Towers, a third plane was hijacked, crashing Flight 77 into the Pentagon killing 125 military personnel and civilians as well as the 64 passengers of the flight.
Following the three plane crashes, a fourth plane carrying 40 passengers learned about the attacks and decided to take a stand against the hijackers. The passengers and flight attendants swarmed the cockpit and fought back against the terrorists. Flight 93 crashed in a field in Pennsylvania ultimately saving lives of innocent civilians that would have been where the plane intended to crash.
More than 10,000 people were treated for injuries as a result of these attacks. Throughout the years, the death toll has risen as the lingering effects of 9/11 have had fatal results for those who experienced the attack. Cancerous toxins that were inhaled, post-traumatic stress, and severe injuries are to blame for some after-the-fact deaths among initial survivors.
The terrorist attacks were not random, they were thought out and planned. Al-Qaeda chose their targets based on what they represented. The Twin Towers were the centerpiece of the World Trade Center and the terrorists viewed them as a symbol of America’s economic power and prosperity and desired to destroy it. The Pentagon, the headquarters for the U.S. Department of Defense was a symbol of America’s military power. The final plane that crashed in an empty field in Pennsylvania from the passengers fighting back, was believed to be heading for the Capitol, the center of the American legislative government. By attacking these symbols of American pride and power, the Islamist Extremists hoped to instill fear in the American citizens and weaken our unity as a country.
A Discussion With Your Children
For many of us, our children were not yet born when this tragedy struck our country. Now, as our children have entered our lives, we as parents are faced with the difficult task of trying to explain September 11th and terrorism in general to them. As their curiosity sparks and they catch a glimpse of terrorist attacks on the news, they may begin to ask questions and want to know more about what they are seeing. If your child is at the age where they can comprehend the subject of terrorism, seize the opportunity to engage them in this very important topic. Don’t be quick to sweep the issue under the rug to “maintain their innocence”. They will eventually learn about 9/11, terrorism, and the evil and hatred that sadly exists in our world. They may as well hear it from their parent that will provide accurate details to them delicately instead of hearing it from their friends or unreliable sources.
When it is the right time to have the discussion regarding September 11th with your children, use it as a teaching moment. Tell your children that this day was a difficult day for all Americans that will remain in our history forever. Explain to them that very evil people from another country intentionally killed numerous people in our country. Teach them that although this brand of evil still exists and another incident can happen again at any time, they do not need to and shouldn’t live in fear. When you begin the process of teaching them about September 11th, there are several important aspects that should be covered.
Recognize the Heroes
There were so many different types of heroes on September 11th that deserve proper recognition and shown appreciation for all they did. Although many lives were lost, without these heroes, the death toll would have been much higher.
Through bravery and strength, the passengers of Flight 93 came together to fight back against the hijackers that were on the plane. Through their efforts, they were able to divert the plane away from the Capitol in Washington D.C., saving countless lives. Their plane crashed in an empty field in Western Pennsylvania with no survivors, but thanks to their determination, the passengers aboard Flight 93 are heroes.
As people were rushing out of the World Trade Center and away from the site of the attack, Firefighters, Police, Officers, and EMS workers were running in to help those injured or trapped inside. 411 First Responders lost their lives trying to save others. They entered the wreckage willingly, sacrificing their lives to save others.
Volunteers from all over came to Ground Zero to assist in rescue, recovery and clean-up, and supporting the victims. Without the help of individuals who donated their time to aid in the efforts to restore New York City and the American spirit, it would have added to the devastation.
Americans came together this day to prove to terrorists threatening our lives and safety that we are stronger united than divided. Through this tragedy, Americans proved that we will bounce back from devastation and we will rebuild and regain our strength. We can and will overcome tragedy. Teach your children to be proud to be Americans and embrace being patriotic.
Honor the Victims
If you and your children are ever in New York City, take them to visit the 9/11 Memorial to pay tribute to the fallen heroes and victims. Paying your respects to the casualties of September 11th is a small but honorable token of your appreciation for them, showing that they will always be remembered.
The 9/11 Memorial opened on the 10th anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2011 in the same spot where the Twin Towers once stood. A Memorial park surrounds two reflecting pools set within the footprints of the Twin Towers and features a 30 foot waterfall. The names of the victims killed in the attacks in New York, the Pentagon, and Flight 93 are etched in bronze surrounding the edges of the pools.
Love Your Country
Teach your children that the United State of America is the best country in the world and to be grateful to live here. Teach them to not take their rights and freedom for granted and to sincerely appreciate the lives they live as Americans.
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