The Why Archive: September 11th, 2001


Josh Hone, Co-Editor

“Where were you when the world stopped turning, on that September day?” Alan Jackson’s song, “Where were you” published on January 15, 2002, expresses the fact that, no matter what walk of life you were from, no matter what political party you were part of, and no matter what you believed, you felt the effects of 9/11. On September 11, 2001, 4 planes were hijacked by terrorists affiliated with al-Quaeda and piloted towards different targets around the United States. The World Trade Center, more commonly known as the twin towers, was hit by two planes, American Airlines flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175. The Pentagon was hit by American Airlines flight 77. The final flight, United Airlines flight 93, was re-hijacked by the passengers, who sacrificed their own lives to drive their plane into the ground in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. That day is forever burned into the memories of American citizens. However, many of us, myself included, either can’t recall where we were, or weren’t anywhere when the word stopped turning. So, for those of us who don‘t remember the attacks of 9/11, it’s just another event in history that our teachers teach us about, similar to the March on Washington, or the Gettysburg address. Yes, it’s significant, but does it really affect us? So, let’s enter the Why Archive, and determine why teachers think it’s so important for us to learn about it. 


Warning: this article contains topics not intended for younger audiences. Reader discretion is advised.


For those of you who aren’t looking to read the whole article, paragraph 7 should answer the ultimate question of why for you.


Starting off, let’s look at the historical significance of the attacks of September 11th. When I first decided on this topic, I knew I wanted to talk to a history teacher. So, thank you, Mr. James, for the historical insights. The 9/11 attacks changed how we considered national security, and gave rise to the TSA. Yes, those people in the blue uniforms that look through your bag to make sure you’re not bringing something dangerous onto the plane, like a weapon, an explosive, or too much shampoo, came about because of the 9/11 attacks. However, that security is important. The 9/11 attacks could have been prevented if airport security had been more like today. However, that’s only scratching the surface. 9/11 helped us as a country realize that we are not invincible, despite establishing some level of peace with most, if not all, countries. 


The attacks made us change how we thought about national debt, military spending, and how we defend ourselves and our country. However, there isn’t anything that makes a more relevant example than what happened, not on September 11th, but on September 12th. Now, the day following the attacks was nowhere near as flashy or historically well-known. However, if there’s an actual lesson for us to know as just normal people, it’s the lesson, or at the very least, the reminder it serves to provide. Because, there wasn’t a day where all Americans were more united than the 12th of September, 2001. That day was probably the day when we were most united as a country. That day is a reminder for all of us that political disagreements can be put aside. It is unfortunate that it took an attack of this magnitude for that unity to be found, but it is possible. 


With all the political turmoil surrounding us, it is of extreme importance that we remember that not everything has to be us-against-them. We have to remember that although the two-party system is important, it was never intended to divide the country into two groups that are constantly at each other’s throats. There was never another day that everyone said “I’m an American,” and felt the entire country behind them.  However, now, only 21 years later, we’re back to never even considering being friends with someone from a different party. Now, I’m not saying I’m not like this. As a member of an undisclosed party, I find it hard to get along with people of the opposing party. 


Social critiques aside, it’s time we get to the reason the Archive even exists: to answer the question of Why. Why do we learn about this event? Mr. James made an excellent point that I would like to share with you. Does anyone remember the riots outside of Congress on January 6th of 2021? Do you remember where you were when you heard? What you were doing? Who you were with? How you found out? The attacks of 9/11 are remembered by those who were alive in that same way, just to a more extreme level. The attacks of 9/11 were just after the turn of the century. It marked the entry into a new era. A single day scarred citizens of this country coming into the 21st century. It was a day that Americans realized just what defending freedom might mean. It was a day that we saw each other with forgiving eyes. It was a day that we learned just what a hero truly was. And I think there are 40 heroes that we don’t talk about that much, and they are the forty passengers and crew members of United 93. 


The story of those individuals isn’t entirely known. We will never know what was going through their heads as they stormed the cabin of that Boeing 757, as they made their final calls to their loved ones, or as they crash landed near Pennsylvania. We may never know what the target of that plane really was, what lives were saved by those 40 individuals, or what they went through to get that plane grounded. 


Now, I’m not saying that the passengers on United 93 were the only heroes in 9/11. Several people saved lives at the risk, and sometimes the cost, of their own. I would like to specifically highlight the first responders who charged into the twin towers and the Pentagon to save anyone they could. Thank you, from the citizens of the United States. We may never know the names of every hero on that day, but any one of them is reason enough to learn about what happened on September 11th, 2001.


Thank you for joining me in the Why Archive. The next article will be published on September 22, 2022, with a topic that is yet to be determined. If you have any suggestions for the topics of future articles, leaving a comment on any of the Why Archive articles will get word to me just fine, as well as emailing me at [email protected]. Also, check out the BroncWriter’s Instagram for a poll that I will also be able to see. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great rest of the day!