On Sunday, September 11th, I watched the 9/11 Memorial ceremonies on Fox News all day. Memories of 9/11 ten years ago came flooding back: On that day, I had gotten up at 6 a.m. as usual (9 a.m. Eastern time) and immediately turned on the TV set in my bedroom. I was horrified to see the South Tower at the World Trade Center with a gaping hole in it and black smoke pouring out. The tower had been hit by American Airlines Flight 11 at 8:46 a.m. Eastern time. I thought at first that the plane had hit the tower accidentally.
As I watched in horror, at 9:03 a.m. Eastern time, I saw the North Tower hit by Flight 175. A big red ball of fire appeared on the opposite side of the tower and I knew that this was a deliberate attack: World War III had started. I expected that attacks in other cities would quickly follow. I called my daughter, woke her up, and told her not to go out of the house because we were at war and anything could happen.
On that day in 2001, I watched the Fox News coverage the whole day; Rick Leventhal was reporting from the site of the attack. Footage from his original coverage was replayed on Sunday 09.11.11.
As I recall, it was very early in the morning, some time before the second tower collapsed at 10:28 a.m. when I heard that the attack had been perpetrated by Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaeda. At the next commercial, I rushed to my computer to google these names, which I had never heard before.
Country singer Alan Jackson has a song called “Where were you on that September day?” On that September day, I was as ignorant as Alan Jackson who sings “I didn’t know the difference between Iraq and Iran.” I could not have pointed to Afghanistan or Iraq on a map. I had no clue as to why America was being attacked.
At 9:37 a.m. Eastern time, the Pentagon was hit by Flight 77 and 184 people lost their lives, including the passengers on the plane. Fortunately, the section of the Pentagon that was hit was only partially occupied because it had been recently renovated. In the replay of the 9/11 coverage, the wreckage of the Flight 77 plane was not shown, although there were new photos, never before shown, of the remains of the planes that had hit the twin towers. Search and rescue dogs were brought to the Pentagon to find the bodies in the wreckage, but there was no mention of whether or not the bodies of the people on the plane were ever found.
Around that same time on 9/11, I heard on Fox News that Flight 93 was headed to Washington, DC with the intention of destroying the Capitol building. It was a very tense time before the plane was brought down by several of the 40 passengers. On the Fox News coverage on 09.11.11, I heard someone say that the “plane was buried in the ground” when it hit a field near Shanksville, PA. I also heard someone say that KLM, the mastermind behind the attacks, had confessed that the target of Flight 93 was the Capitol. The site of the crash is now a memorial with one huge bolder as a symbolic headstone for the 40 passengers who lost their lives. Their names are engraved on a wall at the site.
There were 2,753 people who died in the attacks on the twin towers. It could have been far worse if the planes had hit the towers at a lower point. There were 50,000 people who worked in these buildings but, according to the 9/11 coverage this year, almost all of the workers, on the floors below where the planes hit, were saved. The first plane hit the South Tower 14 minutes before 9 a.m. when many workers had not yet entered the building. If the first plane had hit after 9 a.m. many more people would have been killed.
I don’t recall what time it was on 9/11 when Rick Leventhal said that there were 3,000 Jews who worked for an Israeli company on one of the top floors of one of the towers, but it was before both towers had collapsed, so it was around 7 a.m. California time. Leventhal reported that there was no way that the 3,000 Jews could be saved because they were on a floor above where the plane had hit.
I immediately thought: “Oh boy, we’ll never hear the end of this tragedy. The death of 3,000 Jews will be the focus of the 9/11 story for years to come. There will probably be a Museum set up for them or maybe a room added to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.
I was glued to the TV set, watching Rick Leventhal all day, but he never mentioned the fate of the 3,000 Jews. I assumed that Leventhal was too overcome by emotion at the thought of 3,000 Jews being burned alive or jumping to their deaths. The next day, I learned that the 3,000 Jews did not go to work that day.
Another person who did not go to work that day was Larry Silverstein, the owner of the twin towers and Building 7. According to Shepard Smith’s Fox News special, called “Freedom Rising,” Silverstein had purchased the twin towers for 3.2 billion dollars only two months before the planes hit. By 10:30 a.m. on 9/11, both of the towers were on the ground. Smith said that it was Larry Silverstein who had built Building 7 in 1987. At 5:20 p.m. on 9/11, Building 7 collapsed, although it had not been hit by a plane.
In an interview with Shepard Smith on Sunday, Silverstein said that his daily routine was to go to the World Trade Center early every morning. He would customarily have breakfast every morning in one of the towers, but on that fateful morning, his wife stopped him as he was going out the door. She told him that she had made an appointment for him with a dermatologist and he had to interrupt his usual routine to keep the appointment.
When the new buildings, that will replace the ones that have been demolished, are finished, there will be a 16-acre Memorial Plaza in the heart of New York city with four new buildings and an 8-acre public park, which was opened for the first time on 09.11.11 for the families of the victims. The controversial Mosque, at Park 51 near the 9/11 site, opened today.
The 9/11 park was designed by Peter Walker. The pits in the ground at the former location of the twin towers have been turned into beautiful reflecting pools with waterfalls on the sides. The water from the waterfalls goes down into the ground to tanks seven stories below; this water is used to water the trees that surround the pools. Hundreds of trees have been planted randomly around the pools. These are white oaks and flowering pear trees which do not bear fruit.
The three buildings that collapsed after the 9/11 attack were all very plain architecturally. The four new buildings will be much more dramatic, according to the drawings that were shown on Fox News on Sunday, September 11th. One of the new buildings will be tall enough to see the curvature of the earth from the top of it. Fifteen subway lines will be under the new towers. A national 9/11 Museum will open next year.
The tallest of the new towers that are being built to replace the twin towers will be called the Freedom tower. It will be 1776 feet high in honor of the year 1776 when America obtained its Freedom. 9/11 is all about Freedom.
At 1 p.m. on September 11, 2001 President Bush went on the air to make a speech. He was very calm and composed as he said: “Freedom itself was attacked this morning and Freedom will be defended.”
On October 7, 2001, America attacked Afghanistan and on March 19, 2002, Iraq was attacked because of the threat of “weapons of mass destruction,” which were never found. Both wars, which are being fought to defend our Freedom, are still going on, ten years later.
America got off easy in the attack on our Freedom. To put things into perspective, consider what happened to just one city in Germany during World War II. The city of Cologne was bombed 262 times; half of the buildings in the city were destroyed. The last bombing raid was on March 2, 1945, four days before American troops entered the city. The population of Cologne before the war was 557,658. In December 1945, the population was 447,000, according to registration records of the American occupation. (Source: Germany 1945, From War to Peace by Richard Bessel.)
Sixty-six years after the end of World War II, Germany is still occupied by American troops in order to preserve our Freedom.