How September 11th Changed America Forever
It was a peaceful morning. I was flying to Chicago for a business trip, so I had eagerly anticipated the arrival of September 11, 2001.
As I looked out the airplane window over the patchwork of farms in America’s heartland I had no conception of the horror that my fellow countrymen were facing at that very moment. When American Airlines Flight 11 hit the north tower of the World Trade Center at 8:45 a.m. I was chatting with my boss who was flying with me. When United Airlines Flight 175 slammed into the south tower at 500 miles an hour at 9:03 a.m. I was marveling at the beautiful farmland below us. American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon at 9:40 a.m. as we began our descent into Chicago.
Nineteen al Qaeda militants hijacked four airplanes that fateful day. At the World Trade Center, 2,763 lives were lost, including 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 police officers, and 37 Port Authority officers. At the Pentagon, 189 lives were lost. On Flight 93, 44 people were killed when the plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania – likely after the passengers fought the terrorists for control of the plane.
As we exited the plane on the ground in Chicago, we were met at the door by a national guardsman, armed with a military automatic rifle who was allowing passengers off the plane while keeping others from getting back on. We hurried to the nearest television set and witnessed for the first time the image of the burning World Trade Center towers. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing. Turning to my boss I declared, “Our lives have just changed forever. It will never be the same.”