Halley: On September 11th, I was five years old. My dad was on a business trip. I would say the time I most remember my dad would be on September 11th. You just kind of always remember you don’t get to call anyone dad.
Jack: On the night of September 11th, I did stay up very late. And at that time, you literally expect any minute for the phone to ring, just anything to let us know that he was okay. We never got a call. My dad had a cell phone that we would try to call, hoping he had woken up from being under the rubble that he could get to his phone and call us and he would answer it. But he never called.
Jessica: Three stories of one day that changed the world forever.
Bryant Gumbel: It’s 8:52 here in New York. I am Bryant Gumbel. We understand there has been a plane crash at the sourthern tip of Manhattan. We don’t know if it was a commercial aircraft or a private aircraft.
Jessica: An American Airlines flight from Boston to Los Angeles, carrying ninety-two people, had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers, one of the tallest buildings in the world.
Jack: My dad worked in the World Trade Center. The building that the plane went into was directly next to my dad’s building. He called my mom and said, ‘We are being told to evacuate. I will call you when I’m out.’
Victoria: The first tower was hit about 15 minutes before my father’s shift ended. And he called my mom and said, ‘I have to go, I’m going.’ And she said, ‘Okay.’ Because she knew that he lived to be a firefighter.
“Oh my God! Another plane has just hit. It hit another building. It flew right into the middle of it!”
Jessica: A second flight slammed into the other World Trade Tower. That is when it was clear America was under attack.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a difficult time for America. We’ve had an apparent terrorist attack.”
Victoria: I couldn’t believe that someone would want to do that on purpose. It seemed so mean and so cruel, like, why? How could someone want to destroy those buildings? How could you put people’s lives in danger like that?
Jessica: And then the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense, hit by another hijacked plane.
Bryant Gumbel: Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! We are looking at a live picture from Washington, and there is smoke pouring out of the Pentagon. It would appear there has been another major explosion. This one in the nation’s capital.
Jessica: And then the unthinkable happened. The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.
“It collapsed. The top floors collapsed down. I saw it blow and then ran. I’m 69. Thank God I can still run.”
Halley: The news was turned on and you could just see building smoking and seeing planes crashing into the Pentagon, Twin Towers, World Trade Center. And my mom was talking on the phone and later wailing, just screaming bloody murder.
Jessica: Halley’s dad was on Flight 93 from Newark, New Jersey to San Francisco, California.
Halley: Whenever my dad called my mom, he called saying that the plane was hijacked. And my mom was informing him that other planes are hijacked and were crashing into important buildings.
Jessica: After hearing about the devastation from the other crashes, the passengers on Flight 93 were determined to prevent their plane from killing more people.
Halley: My dad managed to get a group together of passengers to take back the cockpit. The hijackers did lock the cockpit once they got in, and my dad and his group took the flight attendant food cart and rammed it into the door until it opened.
Jessica: A fourth plane, United Flight 93, crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Halley’s dad was a hero. He and other passengers prevented another major attack, and may have saved hundreds of lives.
Halley: I think that the hijackers wanted to crash the plane into the Capitol or the White House in Washington, D.C.
Jessica: And there were more heroes that day. Hundreds of rescue workers had been sent to help the people at the towers.
Victoria: My father was a very giving person. Firefighting was his life.
Jessica: After the first tower fell, the fire department ordered an immediate evacuation of the building that was still standing.”
Victoria: The last transmission from my dad’s ladder company was that they were on the 35th floor of the North Tower with multiple civilian injuries.
“Incredibly, unbelievably, the other World Trade tower has just collapsed.”
Jessica: The North Tower of the World Trade Center crumbled in seconds.
“Chaos. It’s chaos out here. I saw the Twin Towers fall! It’s amazing! It’s crazy! It’s a nightmare.”
Victoria: Within hours of us getting home and watching the TV and watching the catastrophe unfold, my mom started calling the other wives of Ladder 3, asking if they’d heard anything, asking if anyone had seen their husbands anywhere around the World Trade Center.
Jessica: Victoria’s father, and more than 400 other resue workers, never made it home.
“What we lost and the sacrifice that our loved ones made is still evident in our country.”
Victoria: After about a month of waiting, I had pretty much known he passed away. I mean, you can try to trick yourself in your mind, but I pretty much knew. After my mom learned that my dad died, she brought us upstairs and was like, Dad isn’t coming home. I just remember everyone starting to cry.
President Bush: Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil despicable acts of terror.
Jessica: In all, almost 3,000 people were killed that day. And U.S. officials say the 19 hijackers were part of al-Qaeda, a terrorist group that was led by Osama bin Laden.
Jim Stewart Evening News: U.S. intelligence officials no longer have just a theory about today’s attack, they have some evidence. And it all points to bin Laden.
Jessica: It was clear, after the attack, America had been scarred forever. But it was also a time when people came together, united in their pride for the country and the heroes that died that day.
Bush: The nation sends its love and compassion to everyone here today. Thank you for your hard work and for making the nation proud. God bless America. USA! USA! USA!
Jessica: Now ten years later, these teens and all of America, are still healing.
Halley: I would say that if anyone ever loses a family member, they will always carry a sense of loss but at the same time you can go back to normal. We were able to be happy again.
Jessica: Halley is 15 years old and goes to Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Jack: What got me through it was I want to be the kid I was when my dad was alive. You’ve got to make the decision that ‘I am going to go on with my life the way I want it to be.
Jessica: Jack may follow in his father’s footsteps. He is a sophmore at Boston College and wants to study finance.
Victoria: I want to do everything I can to preserve my father’s legacy and preserve his core values. And his core values were to help people, and he loved the fire department so much.
Jessica: Victoria now works at the New York City Fire Department.
Victoria: If my dad could tell me anything, I think he would tell me that I am doing a good job. That I am everything he hoped for.
- What makes September 11th a day to remember?