The worst terrorist attack in American history happened 22 years ago today. On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four American Airlines and United Airlines planes: two of them hit the World Trade Center in New York and one more hit the Pentagon building. The fourth plane was also taken over by terrorists, whose aim was to crash it into the Capitol. But the heroics of the travelers who fought against the terrorists prevented them from making it to Washington, and the aircraft ultimately ended up crashing in a field in Shanksville, Pa.
Not including the terrorists, 2,977 people were killed – the vast majority in New York – and more than 25,000 were injured, many of them seriously and with lifelong physical scars. Of the total number of fatalities, around 340 were firefighters, police officers or other public responders. In addition, material damage was in the billions of dollars. Twenty-two years later, the last two victims of this attack have been identified .
Around 8:30 a.m. on Monday at Ground Zero next to the 9/11 National Memorial, thousands of people gathered to pay tribute to the victims, and all their names were read. In addition, the city projected two blue lights representing the Twin Towers. Year after year, these tributes are held for citizens to pay their respects. Mayor Eric Adams and Vice President Kamala Harris were present at the event. A minute of silence was also observed at the time when each of the planes hit.
At the Pentagon, a large American flag was placed on the side of the façade where the third plane hijacked by the terrorists hit.
Chronology of the four attacks
The attacks all happened in just over an hour. The first plane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center around 8:45 a.m. It took off from Boston International Airport and was bound for Los Angeles International Airport. On board were 81 passengers, including five terrorists, and 11 crew members.
The second hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m. Its flight path was the same as the first. Counting the five terrorists who were on board, 56 passengers and nine crew members were traveling.
At 9:37 a.m., the West Wing of the Pentagon suffered the third of the attacks. A plane flying from Washington-Dulles International Airport and also destined for Los Angeles International Airport. It was flying with 64 people: 58 passengers, counting five terrorists, and six crew members.
The 33 passengers and 7 crew members traveling on United Airlines Flight 93 prevented the four terrorists inside the plane from reaching their target, the Capitol. Finally, it ended up crashing into a field in Shanksville, Pa., at 10:03 a.m. The plane took off from Newark Liberty International Airport and was headed to San Francisco International Airport.