The Attacks on September 11th
The Attacks on September 11, 2001, forever changed the world as terrorists associated with al-Qaeda, a radical Islamic extremist group, weaponized four commercial airliners. American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were intentionally crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, causing unimaginable devastation and the collapse of both towers. American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, while United Airlines Flight 93, headed for another target, crashed into a Pennsylvania field after heroic passengers thwarted the hijackers' plans. The attacks claimed nearly 3,000 lives, making it one of the deadliest acts of terrorism in history.
Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, orchestrated the attacks in response to his perception of U.S. foreign policies and military presence in the Middle East. The attacks aimed to strike at America's economic and military centers and sow terror across the nation. As President George W. Bush stated in his address to the nation that evening, "Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America."
In the aftermath, the resilience of the American spirit was evident as first responders, including firefighters, rushed into the chaos to save lives. The iconic image of firefighters raising the American flag at Ground Zero symbolized their courage and dedication in the face of adversity. Thomas E. Franklin's photograph of this scene became a powerful symbol of unity and strength, echoing Joe Rosenthal's World War II photograph of the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima. The attacks prompted the United States to launch the War on Terror, leading to military actions in Afghanistan to dismantle al-Qaeda and remove the Taliban regime. Additionally, the attacks led to significant changes in U.S. security measures, including the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act. The memory of 9/11 continues to shape global geopolitics, security strategies, and international relations.