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The Attacks on September 11th

On September 11, 2001, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks forever altered the course of American history. The day began like any other, with clear skies and no indication of the tragedy that would unfold. 19 terrorists from the extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial airliners.


The first attack occurred at 8:46 AM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) when American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767, crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. This horrifying event was televised around the world, and it became evident that it was not an accident but a deliberate act of terrorism.


At 9:03 AM EDT, United Airlines Flight 175, another Boeing 767, struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center. The world watched in shock and disbelief as both towers burned, and it became clear that the United States was under attack.


Meanwhile, at 9:37 AM EDT, American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757, crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, causing extensive damage and fires. This further confirmed the extent of the coordinated terrorist plot.


Back in New York City, at 10:03 AM EDT, United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757, crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Passengers aboard this flight had heroically resisted the hijackers' plans, preventing an even greater tragedy by sacrificing their own lives.


The most iconic image of the day emerged when firefighters raised the American flag amid the rubble of the World Trade Center. The photograph, taken by Thomas E. Franklin of The Bergen Record, captured the resilience and unity of the American people in the face of adversity. This image would come to symbolize the spirit of 9/11 and is often referred to as the "Ground Zero Flag." 


The “9/11 Flag “ or “Ground Zero Flag” became a symbol of resilience and unity in the face of tragedy. The flag, originally a 3-by-5-foot flag, was taken from a yacht docked in the Hudson River and hoisted by firefighters Thomas Franklin, George Johnson, and Dan McWilliams. Their act of patriotism and defiance captured the spirit of a nation in mourning and inspired hope during a dark time.


In the aftermath of the attacks, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives, and the United States declared a War on Terror, leading to military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. The events of September 11, 2001, profoundly shaped U.S. foreign and domestic policies and had a lasting impact on global security. The Ground Zero Flag, which symbolizes the strength and determination of a nation, remains an enduring reminder of the courage and resilience displayed by Americans on that fateful day.




Additional Resources:


Ground Zero Flag


Iconic Ground Zero Flag Donated to 9/11 Memorial Museum

Smithsonian Magazine

The Lesser-Known Photo of an Iconic 9/11 Moment Brings Shades of Gray to the Day's Memory


CBS News

Three Firefighters Raised an American Flag in the Rubble of the World Trade Center




The Real Story Behind This Iconic 9/11 Photo




9/11 History


The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks


9/11 Memorial & Museum


September 11: A Day of Remembrance and Service

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