9/11 Memories Still Strong in Longfellow Community

Each and every person has seen and has been affected by the 9/11 scene. Every year on September 11th, schools worldwide have taught students about the attacks and how many people risked or sacrificed their lives for others; those are the people we still respect today. 

There were four attacks on the U.S. that day. One of them was an American Airline Boeing 767, which crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York at 8:45 a.m. Another one was United Airlines Flight 175, which crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center 18 minutes after the first plane at 9:03 a.m. The third plane was American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon (U.S. Department of Defense) in Washington D.C. at 9:45 a.m. The last attack crashed in a rural field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 10:10 a.m. 

That last flight changed the way passengers would respond to hijackers forever. When the terrorists hijacked the plane, passengers had begun to hear about the other attacks.  Knowing that there was little chance of surviving the attack, flight attendants and some passengers attacked the terrorists, and the plane spun out of control and crashed into the ground at 500 miles per hour. Some theories on where the terrorists may have been heading include the White House, Camp David (the presidential retreat in Maryland), or some nuclear power plants on the eastern coast.

Many regular citizens behaved in extraordinary ways that day, some giving their lives.  Either way, their stories are the ones that touch us over 20 years later. These stories are part of the legacy of 9/11.  People try to remember it as a day in which U.S. citizens rose to the occasion and pulled together to help their fellow man.

“The boats on 9/11 which came in and took people were a great example of the community coming together in a time of need,” said 8th grader Nihal D. Nihal explained that the boats were rescuing people from the attack. 

20 years may seem like a lifetime to middle schoolers, but memories from 9/11 are alive in our community today. 

“My mom was in one of the twin towers, I think the second one that crashed,” said 8th grader Koco W. Fortunately, she got out safely.  Her father was elsewhere in the city. 

History teacher Noel Kellams, who didn’t have a personal connection to the attacks themselves, remembers how the resulting wars impacted his life. 

“It was such a formative thing because I knew war was coming, and many of my friends ended up joining the military,” Kellams explained. “Some of them passed away in the wars that ended from that, so it was a very hard time for people my age.”  

Soon after the attack on October 7, 2001, NATO  launched an attack against Afghanistan, according to Brittanica. Afghanistan was housing the terrorist group Al Qaeda, which was responsible for the attack. The mission successfully drove al-Qaeda leaders into hiding.  It took 10 years, but U.S. soldiers eventually found Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attack, in a secure compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  He was killed on May 2, 2011. 

Popular YA author Alan Gratz’s 2021 book Ground Zero explores both the event itself and its aftermath in Afghanistan. One character is in the towers, experiencing the event firsthand, and the other is a young Afghani in 2019, still caught in battles that began with the attack. The book shows how lasting the impacts have been, and how they are still playing out today. 

Another long-term impact of 9/11, according to History.com, came from the raining debris from the falling towers.  Citizens who breathed in the dust that clogged the air were later diagnosed with cancer. By 2015, the American government had to give 7.4 billion dollars to hospitals to treat this cancer. By 2018, 10,000 people were diagnosed with 9/11-related illnesses like GERD(gastroesophageal reflux disease), asthma, and other respiratory diseases.

9/11 was one of the most memorable moments, affecting people all over the world, including the students in Longfellow Middle School. 28