As Americans and the world watched, two jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York City while another crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The colossal Twin Towers collapsed a short time later. Passengers on board the fourth airplane, Flight 93, averted even more destruction by trying to regain control of their airplane. As a result, the hijackers downed it in a field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Flight 93’s intended target was likely either the White House or the United States Capitol.
When President George W. Bush first visited New York City three days after the attacks, he was astonished by the horror of the scene:
As we approached Ground Zero, I felt like I was entering a nightmare. There was little light. Smoke hung in the air mixed with suspended particles of debris, creating an eerie gray curtain…They had hit us harder than I comprehended.
(Decision Points, p. 148)
Despite the tragic loss of life and destruction, the nation drew strength and unity. Years after the terrorist attacks, the effects of September 11th have been complex and far-reaching; however, President Bush’s words from his national address given from the Oval Office that evening hold true:
Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.