Example Of An Unforgettable Day: Research Paper
Discussing the Causes, Effects and Impacts of the 9/11 Terrorists Attacks
There are events in history that are deemed memorable or impactful. There are other events in history that are perceived as pivotal, paradigm shifting and influence that set the course for the future in very profound ways. Some of these events are relevant for negative and positive reasons or a combination of both. These include events like, The Black Plague, the Renaissance, and the development of antibiotics, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the ending of American slavery, and the Civil Rights Movement. However, in 21st century the singular event that impacted and changed America permanently in many ways and stunned Americans and people all across the world. That event began at 8:45 in the morning on Tuesday September 11, 2001 with devastation and the inevitable immense loss of life. This was the morning, now immortalized as 9/11; which caused destruction to structures and took lives in three different states, almost simultaneously. Within a brief period, less than an hour and a half, the America that had been before ceased to exist. This new America was one transformed by this single event, it had immediate, long term and unforeseen side effects that are still felt today. In order to understand this impactful day it is necessary to understand what inspired such an attack on America and its citizens, what the effects have been on the country and around the world, and how it changed America forever it is necessary to discuss each of the elements individually.
First and foremost in order to discuss the events of 9/11 it is necessary to be clear on some specific facts. There are dozens of differing theories as to what happened that morning and in the hours following that are incredibly divergent. There are the events and there are the interpretations that involve hoax’s, government conspiracies, sometimes falsified and entirely misleading or fabricated information. This is a manipulation of data that does not lend itself to the truth of the matter (Bennett, 2006). That said it is important to go over the individual planes that were hijacked and used as weapons in the attacks and the legitimate events; the facts of 9/11 that are all too real and all too true.
American Airlines Flight 11: American Airlines Flight 11 left Boston for Los Angeles at 7:59 am. At 8:24 am, the hijackers aboard made their move. A flight attendant was able to call for help. Her conversation was the last communication that anyone would have with this flight. At 8:44 she reported that something was seriously wrong and the plane was in rapid descent. She said, panicked, she could see water and buildings, and then silence. At 8:46 the plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York (Sherwell, 2011).
United Airlines Flight 175: United Flight 175, also, left Boston for Los Angeles, they made their last expected transmission at 8:14 am. By 8:42, the plane had been taken and phone calls from staff and passengers gave a brief few moments as to what was happening on the plane. The hijackers began attacking passengers with knives and mace. They had control of the plane had were taking the plane off its intended course. Like Flight 11, the passengers were not sure where they were, only that they were too low, seeing nothing but water and buildings. At 9:03 am, Flight 175 hit the South tower of the World Trade Center (Sherwell, 2011).
American Airlines Flight 77: American Flight 77 took off from Washington, also, headed for Los Angeles at 8:20 am. The hijackers killed the pilots and took over control of the plane with very little incident, hence the unaware passengers and crew did not make as many phone calls. Beginning at 9:12 am, two short phone calls explained the plane was hijacked and headed into, what looked like, a residential area. At 9:37 am the plane impacted the side of the Pentagon in Virginia (Sherwell, 2011).
United Airlines Flight 93: United Flight 93 took off, on its scheduled flight from Newark to San Francisco, 42 minutes late, not taking off until 8:42 am. By 9:19, the messages began to go out warning other flights and informing about the attacks at the World Trade Center. The hijackers “made their move” at 9:28 am; passengers became aware of what was happening a few minutes later and began making many phone calls. As the plane was being diverted to Washington D.C, the passengers began to talk of revolt. By now they knew of the other attacks and were determined to prevent the hijackers from reaching their intended target. At 9:57 the rebellion began. After several minutes of assaults to get into the cockpit, which likely would have been successful, the hijackers decided to crash the plane in a field in Pennsylvania, 20 minutes from its intended destination; the White House (Sherwell, 2011).
Between the passengers of the four jets and the attack sites nearly 3,000 people were killed; the bulk of which at the Ground Zero of site of the World Trade Center. These are the facts of 9/11. From the instance that the first planes hit, most Americans can tell you exactly where they were and what they were thinking. Instantly it was marked as terrible catastrophe, an accident causing a single plane to veer off course and collide with a skyscraper. However, when the second plane hit, it was obvious that no accidents had occurred that day (Grunwald, 2001). From there, again, theories began circulating, who was to blame, why it happened, and what it was intended to accomplish. Many of these theories are incredibly controversial and impossible to verify. What did become evident very quickly was that these hijackers represented a fringe and extremist branch of Islamic terrorists who orchestrated this well-planned, complex plot to gain control of and operate multiple United States commercial jets, and in a timely fashion use them as a weapon of destruction upon significant American targets. Why did these extremists plan expensive and complex plot against the American people to begin with?
The extremist organization called al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden, were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. There is no single motivating factor that can be singularly attributed, there are plausibly a number of reasons combined that led to such aggressive and destructive acts. One of the greatest contributors is the rise of extremist groups in the Middle East eager to flex their muscles and show their power; both to their people and the world. An attack on America would bolster their cause. Many feel it is the presence of American influence in the Middle East, combined with modern technologies, which contradict much of their culture traditions present in the Middle East. Others argue that it was most likely latent animosities already existing in the Middle East for decades. One of the most significant contributors is a faulty interpretation and misleading teachings of Islamic religious literature inspiring hatred, disdain and desire to destroy America as part of a “jihad” or holy war. Something that is in no way supported by mainstream Muslims or traditional Islamic teachings (Bergen, 2006).Finally, there is one final contributor that may have played a significant role in these terrorist cell’s plots to attack the United States. America has been involved in many wars, however, not since the Civil War has it been stationed in the United States and the last time a “terrorist” attack was successfully accomplished was the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, just prior to Americas entrance in to the second World War. America has often prided itself on being impervious to outside attack, untouchable because of its power globally, which may be perceived by “enemies” as taunting or daring them to try (Balzar, 2001). With all of the tensions created in the Middle East over the decades it was al Qaeda that decided to order the attacks against the United States.
The extremists wanted to shock, intimidate and harm America with their acts and they did exactly that. Because of 9/11, the America that existed on September 10, 2001 cease to be; by mid-day of September 11 America was a very different place. No longer untouchable, not nearly as secure as the population may have believed and victims of a mass terrorist plot these new American’s were united under fear, confusion, and anger. The effects of 9/11 are wide spread and plentiful, ranging from the immediate impacts and long term impacts. The immediate impacts involve the use of such violence as a tool to intimidate and spread fear. There is no doubt the bin Laden’s goal of a frightened America was successful (Nacos, Bloch-Elkon & Shapiro, 2007).Americans were terrified, from coast to coast; they were afraid of airports, amusement parks, large school campuses, malls, high rise structures, and government buildings. Anywhere that might make a possible target Americans were afraid to congregate. However, that fear and shock quickly turned to resolve and determination. Still, newly elected President George W. Bush had just survived a controversial election and his approval was, by no means, universal needed to lead the American people. However, his quick response and immediate call to action against our attackers received huge approval and Americans were ready to accept his leadership (Grunwald, 2001).There are four major long term consequences that can still be seen to play a huge impact on American society.
Changes in Security at all Levels: Everywhere, especially airports, embraced much stronger security measures to ensure the safety of crew and passengers when flying. This involved more detailed searches, greater scrutiny, and much longer lines to get through the airport process. In 2001, Americans supported such measures and were tolerant of these measures. However, today most Americans, now find the, stricter security to be inconvenient and tedious. It has also led to controversial detainments that have been classified as racial profiling and racism. Many Middle Eastern passengers, particularly those who wear cultural wardrobe, are often single out as threat with, sometimes, little legitimate reason, the fact they are of Middle Eastern descent or member of the Islamic faith is enough (Green, 2014).
Immigration and Deportation: Much as with airports, greater measures were taken to bolster support for stronger policies and safeguards regarding immigration, especially illegal immigration, and the allowing of threats of terrorism crossing the United States borders. This has resulted in more involved customs departments and the fortifying of government immigration organizations dedicated to greater prevention of illegal immigration and more immediate deportation of possible threats (Green, 2014).
Years of Unending Warfare: There is no question that the United States perceived as and acted upon 9/11 as a declaration of war. However, it is unlikely that American government or the people imagined that the hostilities would continue for more than a decade. However, America did feel a certain amount of satisfaction when a few years ago al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden was finally located by American forces and killed (Green, 2014). Again, the Bush administration had the majority support for immediate, succinct, and fast action in retaliation to the events of 9/11. However, as the years rolled by and the immediate fears of terrorists threats began to dwindle the anger and support did as well (Huddy & Feldman, 2011). There began to be many Americans and critics of America began to even question whether the methods used by the Bush administration in order to strike back at al Qaeda were entirely copacetic with existing laws and foreign policies in place at the time (Cole, 2012). Many began to question the actions of the government, monetary expenditures, and endeavors of the war.
Invasive Surveillance: Finally, one of the most long-lasting and controversial impacts of 9/11 involves the ethically questionable use of surveillance technologies. After the 9/11 attacks the government felt that their best means of protecting the people and eliminating terrorist threats it would be best to prevent them from ever happening to begin with (Green, 2014). However, in order to do that the government must gain access to covert information gathering means. This has led to an ever-increasing amount of public and possibly private surveillance at the government’s discretion. This particular approach raise serious questions of American right to privacy and infringements upon the people’s American Constitutional rights (Barr, 2007).
Following the attacks in 2001 there was a growth in American solidarity against the terrorist enemy and unified voice in the efforts to come out of such tragic events stronger and better for it. However, while America did absorb the shock and horror of the events of 9/11, did manage to rise from the ashes of fear and devastation and, would ultimately, come out victorious over Osama bin Laden. Unfortunately, there are many side effects of 9/11 that was and is not beneficial. Again, the terrorists being of Islamic tradition led to many racially motivated crimes against residential immigrants and native-born Muslims in the United States and all over the world (Bergen, 2006). The bulk of Muslims do not embrace an ideology of violence and are not a participant in any way with the isolated actions of 9/11; yet American Muslims mosques were vandalized and members harassed and threatened. Despite the efforts of groups working to show and prove that the terrorist’s radical views were not a part of their religion. Many modern Muslims feel that these terrorists did not just hijack planes, but also an entire religion.
9/11 shatter the perception of the American people that they were inevitably safe from such terrorism or the implementing of terrorists plots could ever happen right under the people’s noses, so to speak. It forced America to realize that we are just an easy of a target as any other great nations all across the globe. Seeing America suffer through the initial days of shock and awe after the attacks the world saw America bruised and bleeding. It changed the impression of America and terrorism all over the world. Not only did it reveal that America was not untouchable, but also, if terrorism on this scale can happen to America it can happen to any country (Lewis, 2011). This put the governments, particularly those with known allegiances with the United States, on high alert themselves; allowing other nations to be more prepared and aware of such threats within their own borders.
September is the “day that will live in infamy” of the 21st century. The images of these planes hitting those towers, the explosions, the crashing of shattering glass on a stunned New York City are etched in people’s minds. The images of a torn Pentagon, a symbol of American government, burning is singed into memory. The visage of the plane wreckage in an empty field, where the heroic passengers that prevented it from reaching its intended target met their end will never be forgotten. All of these moments are freeze-framed and are part of the American, as well as global, paradigm. America was not expecting such an attack, but they survived it, however, no matter how far America may go and how much time passes, 9/11 is and will remain one of the most pivotal and profoundly impacting events in the course of its history and always shall be.
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Bennett, J. (2006). Evidence for controlled deception: A long list of observations - part ii. Journal of Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy Theories, 1(1), 1-11.
Bergen, P. (2006, September 24). What were the causes of 9/11?. Prospect Magazine, 1. Retrieved from http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/features/whatwerethecausesof911
Cole, D. (2012). Where liberty lies: Civil society and individual rights after 9/11. Georgetown University Law Center, 57(12-164), 1203-1267.
Green, M. (2014, September 10). How 9/11 changed america: Four major lasting impacts. The Lowdown, 1. Retrieved from http://blogs.kqed.org/lowdown/2014/09/10/13-years-later-four-major-lasting-impacts-of-911/
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Hit Pentagon; Hundreds Dead. The Washington Post, p. 1. Retrieved February 5, 2015,
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Lewis, T. (2011, September 8). The lessons. The New York Times: 9/11-The Reckoning. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/08/us/sept-11-reckoning/teach.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Nacos, B. L., Bloch-Elkon, Y., & Shapiro, R. Y. (2007). Post-9/11 terrorism threats, news
coverage, and public perceptions in the united states. International Journal of Conflict and Violence, 1(2), 105 – 126
Sherwell, P. (2011, September 10). 9/11: Voices from the doomed planes. The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/september-11-attacks/8754395/911-Voices-from-the-doomed-planes.html
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