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Attack on America has lingering impact


Lexington Park, MD - This day marks 17 years since terrorists attacked the United States on American soil. Sept. 11, 2001 was a beautiful late summer day. Anyone watching NBC’s Today Show during the 8 a.m. hour perhaps recalls Matt Lauer announcing “breaking news” would be divulged after a three-commercial break. As the network went to break a shot of the usual Today Show crowd could be seen and sirens could be heard. When the live broadcast resumed, viewers learned a large plane had crashed into the north face of the World Trade Center’s north tower. While initially those watching may have surmised that an accident had occurred, subsequent developments—a second large airliner crashing into the WTC south tower, the report of an airliner crashing into the Pentagon, and later, another plane crashing in Western Pennsylvania—showed this was a planned sneak attack on a scale of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. In fact, the September 2001 Attack on America eclipsed Pearl Harbor in the number of Americans killed.

In 2011, to mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the online publication LA Youth interviewed several teens who were just barely old enough to remember the dark day. “I woke up to the television on and when I walked into the living room my mom was crying and my dad looked shocked,” stated a teen named Camille, who explained she was 5 on that day. “I had no idea what was going on and when they saw me they immediately shut the television off. My dad took me to school and all I can remember is seeing my teacher crying and a confusing announcement about something awful that happened.” Camille recalled the emotion years later when the family visited the World Trade Center site. She also remembered reading a news article about “The Falling Man,” an amazing but horrifying photograph of a man who jumped from one of the World Trade Center towers as smoke and fire began to consume the behemoth structure.

Another student recalled the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001 and going to his grandmother’s house, turning on the television to watch Pokémon, only to discover a “grown up show” was being aired instead. As he got older and began learning more about 9/11 the young man was prompted to do research on al Qaeda, the organization responsible for the attack. “The September 11 attacks made me more interested in politics and what was going on outside my neighborhood,” he said.

A story in a 2016 edition of TheConversation.com entitled “How the Pain of 9/11 Still stays With a Generation” noted that 60 percent of Americans watched the attacks happen live or saw them replayed over and over again. A psychologist, William Schlenger, led a group research project that discovered Americans who reported watching more hours of 9/11 television in its immediate aftermath “were more likely to report symptoms resembling post-traumatic stress disorder.”

For family members of 9/11 victims, many emotions, including anger have been manifested. "We are angry at everyone responsible for building those towers of doom," the widow of a 9/11 victim told Voice of America News back in 2009. "We are angry at the airlines for having no security system, for allowing those planes to be hijacked. You know, the planes started the problem, the buildings finished the problem."

Communities across America will pause Sept. 11 to remember the nearly 3,000 Americans who died in the attack. According to the Associated Press, President Donald Trump will mark the solemn 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks by participating in a ceremony at the 9/11 memorial in Pennsylvania. The ceremony will specifically honor the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, who, after learning of the other attacks, challenged the hijackers. While all lost their lives, they nevertheless thwarted the terrorists’ plans to wreak havoc on another iconic structure, likely the Capitol building, and causing more deaths.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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