At 8:45 a.m. on September 11, 2001, an American Airlines Boeing 767, Flight 11, collided into the World Trade Center’s north tower in New York City immediately killing hundreds of people and trapping hundreds more in the 110-story skyscraper. Only 18 minutes later, a second Boeing 767, United Airlines Flight 175, flew into the south tower. Both towers afire, burning debris covered the surrounding buildings and the streets below while hundreds jumped from the towers to their deaths in an attempt to escape. About 30 minutes later, a third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, crashed into the west side of the Pentagon near Washington, D.C. and a fourth plane, United Flight 93, crash-landed into a field in Pennsylvania killing all 40 souls onboard. Meanwhile, both World Trade Center towers collapsed into a terrifying and deadly inferno of rubble.
The Presidents’ Responses
On September 11, 2001, sitting President George W. Bush addressed the nation with a formal statement, “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.” Eleven days later, the Office of Homeland Security in the White House coordinated a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard the country against terrorism and respond to future attacks. Operation Enduring Freedom, the American-led international effort to oust the Taliban, began on October 7, 2001. Although the Taliban was weakened, the war continued and Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, remained at large for nearly a decade.
On May 2, 2011, U.S. Special Forces SEAL Team Six invaded bin Laden’s fortress in Abbottabad, Pakistan and took down bin Laden. Sitting President Barack Obama stated, “The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.” He added, “his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.”