Eighteen years ago today, the world changed.
At 8:45 a.m., a Boeing 767 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. Eighteen minutes later, a second 767 hit the south tower.
For those 18 minutes, the nation thought maybe it was just an accident. But when the second plane hit, we knew.
We were under attack.
And it continued. An hour after the first impact, a Boeing 757 slammed into the Pentagon. And less than a half hour after that, passengers and staff of another plane thwarted another attack by taking on the terrorists. Their plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m.
In one hour and 25 minutes, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives because 19 al-Qaeda terrorists armed with box cutters were able to board four planes and eventually take control of them to carry out their deadly mission.
Many of us remember the fear and anger of that day.
But for others, 9/11 is just a story told by their parents or a lesson learned in history books. For these youngsters, 9/11 is like the John Kennedy assassination for their parents or Pearl Harbor or D-Day for their grandparents.
But today, students will be reminded of the impact this day had the nation, and will have a chance to remember the sacrifice so many gave on that day.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday signed legislation establishing September 11th Remembrance Day. The law allows for a brief moment of silence in public schools at the beginning of the school day every Sept. 11 “to encourage dialogue and education in the classroom, and to ensure future generations have an understanding of the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks and their place in history,” according to a media release.
That was they day terrorism truly entered the collective American mind. We faced terrorist attacks before — the 1993 World Trade Center bombing carried out by an al-Qaeda linked group, in which six people died, and the domestic terrorism of the Oklahoma City bombing that left nearly 170 dead.
But on Sept. 11, 2001, thousands of people died. Not by a natural disaster. Not by a freak accident. But because “they” hate “us.”
We had to learn to live life differently. We couldn’t fight a nation’s army this time. We were fighting a group of people dedicated to killing us.
The impact is still felt strongly today. The war we declared in Afghanistan after the attacks is still going on. Getting on a plane is no simple task anymore. We hear of terrorism watch lists, and terrorists using today’s technology to lure young Americans, many who weren’t even alive when the attacks began, to fight their Jihad.
“Students graduating from high school as part of the Class of 2019 were just newborns during the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001,” said Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato in the release, “and soon enough there will be no students in the national public school system born at the time of 9/11. By mandating a brief moment of silent reflection every year, we may ensure that future generations will better understand this day and its significance in our history.”
“9/11 was one of the single darkest periods in this state’s and this nation’s history,” Cuomo said, “and we owe it to those we lost and to the countless heroes who ran toward danger that day and the days that followed to do everything we can to keep their memory alive.”
We hope that the moment of silence will spark more conversations about what 9/11 meant for our nation and what we can do to fight terror in the future.