The adventures of the Els family, who immigrated from South Africa to the USA. Els family in Texas.

September 11, 2001 -
The Day Al-Qaeda Attacked America

"A Date That Will Live In Infamy" - This is how Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt characterized December 7, 1941, the day Japan attacked the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii, and caused the deaths of more than 3000 Americans.

I am sure that if Pres. Roosevelt were alive today, he would characterize September 11, 2001 in exactly the same way, for this was the day 19 Al-Qaeda terrorists caused the deaths of more than 3000 Americans in an even more cowardly way.

This is how we experienced September 11, 2001...

Starting The Day...

The day had just started for most Amercans. People on the West coast were probably getting ready to go to work. Here in Texas, most people were on the highways on their way to work. Most people on the East coast were already at work, and were getting started on their day.

Around 7.30 a.m. I was in my home/office getting settled in front of my computer for another day of programming. This usually starts with reading any emails that had come in through the night. Esmé has just left the house to drop Johnny off at school, and then go on to the doctor's office for her annual check-up. Michael was at home with Paula, the babysitter who sometimes took care of him when Esmé had to go out.

The First Plane Hits...

At around 7.50 a.m. my MSN news alert popped up on my computer with the headline "Plane Crashes Into WTC". I read the brief description that followed, and decided this had to be the pilot of a small plane that lost control and crashed into the building... nothing too serious. I went back to answering emails.

Email From Len

At around 8.10 a.m., even before my MSN Alert popped up again, I got an email from my brother-in-law, Len, who asked if I had seen the news that two planes had flown into the two WTC towers. That's when it hit me that this was something more serious than a confused pilot of a small airplane. I went into the living room to turn on the TV.

Shock & Horror

I couldn't believe what I was seeing on CNN. Here was Aaron Brown reporting from a rooftop, with huge clouds of smoke and dust behind him... a serious anxiousness in his voice... showing clips of a commercial airliner flying into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, and then another flying into South Tower... each impact followed by a huge explosion of flames. I thought I was watching a horror movie.

I called Esmé, who was already at the doctor's office. She had heard about it on the radio, and was totally shocked.

I also called Paula, who was playing downstairs with Michael.

More Planes

At that point there was no way I could get to working, so I just sat there, staring at the TV in horror. An hour after the first plane hit the WTC, CNN announced that another plane had flown into the Pentagon. Then there was the plane in Pennsylvania that was hijacked, but had not yet crashed into any buildings.

South Tower Collapses

Still watching Aaron Brown reporting from the rooftop, I suddenly saw a huge change in the burning buildings in the background. There was a huge expansion in the smoke cloud, and Aaron Brown turned around and looked at the buildings and announced that it seems there was some kind of explosion at the buildings. The camera zoomed in, and a few seconds later it was apparent that it was not an explosion, but rather that the South tower had collapsed! This was unbelievable!

North Tower Collapses

About 20 minutes later the North tower collapsed as well, leaving a huge cloud of smoke and dust rising from southern Manhattan. I just sat there thinking, "What's next?"

News Throughout The Rest Of The Day

The rest of the day was just one big blur of news reports, with one of the most important ones being that the plane hijacked over Pennsylvania never reached its intended target, but rather that the brave souls on board that flight decided to storm the hijackers to prevent another crash into a prominent building, resulting in the plane crashing into a field. Bad as that news was, it was at least one small victory over the bastards that attacked our country.

The Hours And Days Following The Attacks

The hours and days following the terrorist atacks were an amazing time to be in the US. We have never seen a nation come together in the face of adversity like this before. That same night many churches had prayer services that were overrun by people supporting one another. Calls for blood donations were answered by long lines of people outside blood donation centers, waiting patiently to do their part. Calls for money and food donations were answered with millions of dollars being donated, and so much food donated that the Red Cross had to ask people to stop donating because their storage facilities were full. Fire fighters from all over the country flocked to New York City to help with the rescue efforts. People bought so many U.S. flags that big stores like Walmart had a hard time to keep up. This unity made us proud to be a part of this great nation.

The World Changed Forever

For most people, life returned to normal fairly soon afterwards, but everyone knew the world had changed forever.

How Safe Is America Against Another Attack Today?

You may want to read Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack to get an idea!

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Copyright, John Els