9/11 Attacks on America

Essay by cameron_01 October 2006

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On September 11, 2001, four passenger planes were hijacked by terrorists. Two of the planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre (WTC) in New York City, causing huge fires that led to the collapse of the towers less than two hours later. One plane crashed into the Pentagon building in Washington, D.C. The last plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania; it is believed the hijackers had planned to also crash this plane into a building or landmark, but were foiled by the actions of the plane's passengers. Many of these horrific events, including the second plane's crash into the World Trade Centre and the collapse of the towers, were witnessed live by millions of television viewers. It was by far the worst terrorist attack on American soil As the dust settled in New York and Washington, Americans were left to ponder what the attacks meant for the nation.

In search of a historical precedent or point of comparison, many Americans reached back to Japan's surprise assault on Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941, another "day of infamy" in which the United States was suddenly attacked. In both instances, a seemingly secure nation was jolted by massive assaults on its own soil. "As Pearl Harbour snapped America out of a false sense of security," NBC news anchor and author Tom Brokaw writes, "September 11 had a similar effect on young Americans."

The comparisons Brokaw and others made between the two dates dealt not only with the attacks themselves, but also how the American people responded to them. Many people wondered whether the resolve and unity shown by the American people in 1941 would be matched in 2001. Others wondered whether September 11 would become a defining experience for this current generation of Americans, much as...