September 11, 2001: 5 firsthand stories from people who survived
'we are, all of us, survivors of 9/11. if you were alive on 9/12, you were a survivor of 9/11.'.
Almost everybody remembers where they were when they heard about the events of September 11, 2001.
In the documentary Surviving 9/11, people who were there share their stories: survivors, first responders and family members of people who died remember the day that changed their lives forever.
What was it like to live through the attacks? And how does one move on from a day that no one wants to forget?
Content warning: This story contains some disturbing details.
Melodie Homer's husband LeRoy Homer was the First Officer on United Airlines Flight 93 — one of the planes that was hijacked as part of the 9/11 attacks. It crashed into a field in Pennsylvania and killed all 37 passengers and seven crew members on board, including LeRoy.
LeRoy specifically had always wanted to work for United Airlines. That was his dream job. Even before he met me, he probably had 10 photo albums filled of all the places he'd been.
He would write on the back of them where the place was. [I asked], "Why are you writing on the back of them?" He's like, "Well, what if I forget when I'm old?" He would send me postcards from places that would [arrive] two weeks after he came home.
At some point, I turned on the television. My phone started ringing…with people wanting to know where LeRoy was, and that's when I started to feel panicked. They didn't know what was going on and how many more planes had been hijacked. I had called the United Airlines flight office. They said everything was OK with his flight; specifically, the phrase the person said [was], "Don't worry. I promise you, everything is OK."
- 'There was a Black pilot on that flight?' Remembering LeRoy Homer, pilot on United Airlines Flight 93
She said to me, "Would you like me to send him a message to him in the cockpit?" And I said, "Yes, please just tell him that I wanted to make sure that he was OK." At that point, he would have wondered what in the world is going on.
Someone from United Airlines called again. He asked me, "Are you alone?" And he said, "I think that last plane was LeRoy's." I was next to the window. I remember just slamming my hand against the glass, I was just beating it and I was… I was just saying, "No, no, no."
I just said, "You promised me that he was OK."
Nancy Suhr's husband Danny Suhr was a New York City firefighter. He was killed on 9/11, when someone who had fallen from the South Tower landed on him.
Danny loved being a firefighter. He would say if we won the lottery, if I wanted to quit my job, fine, but he was never quitting the fire department. He just loved every minute of it. There's a little bit of crazy in all of them and there was a little part of him that liked the fire. He would be on vacation and I would hear him call the firehouse and be like, "Did I miss anything? I miss a good job?"
I put the TV on [on 9/11] and I was like, "This is going to be bad."
I was watching everything unfold on TV and I just got this wave of panic and sheer terror. And then the phone clicked and it was Brian from the firehouse.
He said to me, "Nancy, Danny's been hurt. I'm coming to get you."
And you know that's not good. They're not coming to get you if he broke his arm.
Brian picked me up. We didn't speak the whole ride, but there was not one car on the road, just us. It was eerie.
We pull up to Bellevue and there are nurses and doctors and they're standing outside. No one was coming. I ran inside. They were lined up in the hallway, all of the guys from his firehouse and Chief Jinkowski stood up and I said, "Where is he?"
And he just looked at me. He was like, "Nancy..."
And I'm like, "Where is he?"
And he was like, "He's gone."
I looked up and there was Chris Barry, another guy who was with Dan that day. He was grey. No one would look at me.
Apparently...somebody had fallen from the building [and] landed on him as he and his group were going into the South Tower. It cracked his forehead in half, broke his nose, broke his eye socket, broke his neck.
I just remember they brought me in and he was covered up to here. I remember just kissing him on the cheek and whispering in his ear and telling him that I would always love him and I would make sure [our daughter] Brianna knew him. She would know that he was a wonderful man and he would be part of our lives forever.
He was so proud of the fact that he played football since he was six years old and never broke his nose and I remember thinking, "God, he's gotta be pissed off he broke his nose."
From what I understand, the person who ended up hitting [him] was a woman. People have asked me, "Aren't you angry?"
I'm like, "Are you kidding me? What [were] her last thoughts?"
But he was going into the South Tower. The South Tower collapsed. He was going to die one way or the other that day.
Staten Island firefighter Bill Slade was the only one of the 12 firefighters on duty from his firehouse to survive 9/11.
I remember coming into the door to the firehouse that morning. The radio was blasting. There's French vanilla coffee made and there's a dozen bagels there. So now, without even looking, I know Doug Miller's working, I know Nicky's working, and cooking on the stove is Joe Miscali and he's making French toast that morning. I remember telling him, "Joe, I want the first piece that comes off, I gotta taste this."
I get a phone call from on off-duty fireman. He tells me, "Bill, I just saw a plane hit the Trade Center." He says it sounds like it's going to be something. "You'd better head out also."
I popped on the corner of Liberty and West. I got my gear on. I made sure I had everything I wanted — two good flashlights, a heavy-duty rope — but as I crossed those six lanes of highway, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Bodies were dropping right in front of us. One lady coming down screaming, hitting the ground and then there was really nothing left.
Producer : This is right in front of you?
Within three feet. I remember a man and woman jumping, hugging each other and they still had their arms around each other as they landed. That's the way it remained.
Lauren Manning was a new mom, just back at work in the World Trade Center on 9/11. She was caught in a fireball and suffered an 82.5 per cent total body burn. Manning spent months in a coma before a long period of rehabilitation.
Growing up during the '70s and '80s, what I wanted most was what was espoused in the pages of Glamour and Cosmopolitan: to have it all, to be it all, to do it all. In 2001, I was running the Worldwide Division of Market Data for Cantor Fitzgerald. The towers represented a place of great promise and great hope. It was my home.
I was still a new mom, filled with the joys of everyday new worlds opening for this little boy. At the same time I was anxious to get to work, because [of] the projects I had at hand. They were exciting and it was a place of peace.
I looked up and saw the second plane hit the South Tower. I could see the flames, but most of all, I could feel them burrowing deeper and deeper and deeper and through my clothes and through my skin. I began to feel my consciousness slipping away and I screamed to my son, "Tyler, I can't leave you now. I won't leave you now."
They diagnosed me with an 82.5 per cent total body burn, most of it third- and fourth-degree, a fight that no one thought I would be able to come out of. For three months in the ICU, I learned to walk again, to do things like sit up, through extraordinary pain and open wounds that did not heal for years."
I felt then the way I feel today, which is incredibly grateful and strong. I have so much to do with my life, but I feel so sorry for that person. Gee whiz, it's tough to look at. I got beat up pretty bad.
I was happier, in a sense, back then. Life was simple.
I had, through my injury, that beautiful moment of being able to be strong and unabashedly myself, whereas in business, there wasn't a time that there weren't unwanted passes. There wasn't a time where a role wasn't most often given to a man before a woman. Finally, I had a moment where I could be myself.
N.J. Burkett was a reporter for ABC on 9/11.
So the plan on the way down was for us to get into one of the towers. I want to be there with the firemen, I want to document these heroic rescues, I want to see the heroism and the bravery of…of the firefighters. We parked a block from the North Tower. I come around the corner, I look up, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. There was just no way we could get close enough to the towers to get inside.
You had these guys standing there — I mean, they're standing like soldiers waiting to go into battle. Some of them who were just sort of staring up at the towers, unblinking, wondering if they were going to be sent in.
On 9/12, I covered the story, slept in the satellite truck at Ground Zero. On 9/13, covered the news all day, slept in the satellite truck again. Covered the news on 9/14, did the 6 o'clock news and then went home.
Reporter NJ Burke covered 9/11 for four days, sleeping in the satellite truck : Surviving 9/11
At the time, I thought 9/11 was just the beginning — that we were gonna have suicide bombers on Broadway shows, suicide bombers on the subways. I thought that this was sort of the opening salvo of an ongoing series of terrorism attacks on New York. It started to rule my world: "When is the next event gonna happen?"
We are, all of us, survivors of 9/11. If you were alive on 9/12, you were a survivor of 9/11.
- Watch Surviving 9/11 on CBC Gem
Add some “good” to your morning and evening.
A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.
An official website of the United States government
Here’s how you know
Official websites use .gov A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.
Secure .gov websites use HTTPS A lock ( Lock A locked padlock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.
- Employee Resources
9/11 Stories: I Was Inside the World Trade Center When It Happened
Bob swierupski, cbp.
It was the loudest bang I ever heard. It wasn’t just a single sound but seemed to reverberate for over a second. Since I was located on the fourth floor of 6 World Trade Center I couldn’t tell what just happened. One of my employees then noticed that some debris had fallen from above right past my window. It was then that my front office employees and I decided that we should evacuate the building even though an alarm had not gone off yet. Since the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center we were always prepared to leave the building whenever we felt threatened by any type of incident.
As I left the office I noticed many other employees from the National Commodity Specialist Division already filling the hallways to go to their evacuation exit. As my group and I were approaching the exit one of my employees said, “I have to go back; I forgot to turn off the coffee pot.” He went back to the office while the rest of us continued to the exit that took us out by Seven World Trade Center. It was then that I noticed large chunks of concrete and pieces of metal in my path. At that point it seemed better to get inside a building than to stay outside. Still not knowing what had happened I went into the lobby of 7 World Trade Center. Within a short period of time, however, the lobby started to fill with people who were trying to evacuate that building. Then there was another loud bang. It was at that point that the relative calmness of everyone evacuating turned into a sense of urgency. The building management of 7 World Trade Center then decided to open the emergency exits to let everyone outside.
I’ll never forget my first sight of what had happened. Standing right near tower one and looking up I saw what appeared to be the outline of a plane right through the side of the building. At that point I wasn’t really sure what to do. I tried to call my headquarters office with my cell phone, but the cell phone didn’t work. As I left the area and started to walk up West Broadway I noticed a medical doctor standing in the doorway of his office looking at the towers. I asked him if could make an emergency call to Washington and he said, “sure, go ahead.” When I reached my supervisor I remember saying, “we have a problem here in New York.” His response was, “you sure do, we’re under attack. Tell your people to try to get home as fast as possible.”
I waited for about 30 minutes, but couldn’t find any of my employees because there were hundreds of people leaving the area. By the time I decided to leave for home, the subways were already shut down so I started walking back to Penn Station. My route took me up West Broadway. That’s where I saw wave after wave of New York City firemen rushing to get to the towers. I never saw so many different types of fire fighting vehicles. There were also many other firemen coming in their own private vehicles to help. Since the sidewalks were full of people leaving the World Trade Center area, I was walking in the street right next to the firemen going directly into the area from which everyone else was evacuating. I could see the fearless intensity in their faces. They were going to put out the fire and save lives.
After walking for almost an hour or so I finally made it to Penn Station. It, too, was shut down. Everyone was just standing outside on 7th and 8th Avenues completely filling the streets. There was no other place to go. Amazingly, I ran into one of my employees who had also just arrived at Penn Station. Since we still didn’t know exactly what happened we decided to enter the Hotel New Yorker to find out what had happened and to call home. The lobby of the hotel had a big screen TV showing live action and replays of what was going on down town. I was stunned to see that tower two had collapsed. I couldn’t believe what I was watching. When I was standing beside the towers when I first left building 6 I thought the worst was over. I never thought that either tower would collapse. All those people, all the firemen, police…..
Since 6 World Trade Center was right under tower one I knew then that we probably lost our building. Did everyone get out? Where will we go? Was everything lost? What will become of our division? I finally got to make a phone call home, but my wife was teaching in school at the time so I just left a message that I was safe but didn’t know when I’d get home.
After leaving the hotel I went back to stand outside of Penn Station and, to my surprise, I heard the rumbling of a subway. I went down the stairs and there was an E train going to Jamaica. I got to Jamaica and was able to get a Long Island Rail Road train going to my station. When I got home around 4 p.m. I immediately put the TV on to see the latest developments. I was shocked; both towers gone, our building destroyed and 7 World Trade Center burning. I kept watching all through the night for any new developments.
The next morning I attended the New York DFO’s recovery meeting at JFK Airport. The first step was to contact all employees who worked at the World Trade Center to make sure everyone evacuated safely. Plans were already underway to explore possible relocation sites. My supervisors did an outstanding job contacting everyone and keeping them informed that plans were underway to find a new location. In days following 9/11, I was “on call” with my headquarters management from 7:00am to 10:00pm to keep them informed of ongoing activities.
Two days after 9/11, around 9:45pm, I received a very unusual phone call from the New York Times. They were calling to find out if I had survived the attack on the World Trade Center. I asked them why, out of all the thousands of people who worked there, would they be calling me? They told me that a lady living in Brooklyn found a Ruling Letter that I had signed in her backyard the day after 9/11. It was singed around the edges and looked official. It appeared that when tower one went down it created such a strong air current that it took the ruling letter over the East River and into Brooklyn. After finding the letter the lady was so upset that she called the Times to report what she found and asked if they could find out if I had survived. She was relieved to hear that I was ok. The story appeared in the Times the next day.
The next several weeks resulted in several amazing accomplishments through the coordinated efforts of various offices in the Customs Service. Through the extraordinary efforts of the NY DFO’s Office, the Office of Information Technology in Headquarters, the Logistics people in Indianapolis and the Office of Finance, our new location at One Penn Plaza was up and running in record time. While our new temporary space initially looked more like a warehouse than an office, it was wired for computer access and stocked with computers, supplies and telephones. All we needed was to have our employees return.
Then came the big day. On October 9th the employees were contacted and told to report to work at One Penn Plaza. While many of my employees were eligible to retire, no one did. They all returned. I’ll never forget the pure joy of seeing everyone again in our temporary conference room. It was one of the happiest days of my near-forty year career. Despite losing all their national commodity files, records and resource materials, the national specialists, their assistants and the staff in the Customs Information Exchange were ready to get back to work to perform their assigned tasks. As true professionals it took very little time before all NCSD tasks, functions and programs were back and running smoothly. We eventually had our office space renovated to accommodate all our needs. I’ll always remember the dedication my employees had to their job and to the Customs Service in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.
Subscribe to receive updates to the Employee Resources Blog
Never Forget: The Important 9/11 Stories You Need To Hear
Manhattan skyline before 9/11
Table of Contents
Rick Rescorla. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Moira Smith via NYPD
Photo via the Welles Remy Crowther Trust
Welles Remy Crowther
Photo via the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation
St Paul’s in September 2011
St. Paul’s Chapel
Trinity Root. Photo via Tony Fischer/flickr .
Memorial inside St. Paul’s. Photo via (vincent desjardins)/flickr .
St. Paul’s, A Church & A Museum
St. Paul’s Chapel. Photo via Oswaldo Rubio/flickr.
Hi, I’m Jessie on a journey!
I'm a conscious solo traveler on a mission to take you beyond the guidebook to inspire you to live your best life through travel. Come join me!
Want to live your best life through travel?
Subscribe for FREE access to my library of fun blogging worksheets and learn how to get paid to travel more!
Turn Your Travel Blog Into A Profitable Business
Check your inbox for your welcome email + resource library password!
Oh, wow. I’m a mess over here. A beautiful tribute that brought me right back. I wasn’t in NYC like you were, but I was in high school at the time, and I can very much relate to that surreal feeling of being plunged into a historic moment. Of feeling fear and confusion. It was the first moment in my life where I knew a historic tragedy was happening, I was old enough to understand it, and it was playing out before me on the news. I was seeing classmates sign up for the military and be shipped out after we graduated.
Thank you for highlighting these stories–they should never be forgotten. While it’s painful to look back, it’s also inspiring to remember the heroism and outpouring of love and community that we all witnessed and experienced.
wow, very impressing…… As a new visitor to NY city found out the hugeness of the business & power of money out there still make my one of loved cities so far visited (at least 25 cities around the world) fear-able. At those days while I were watching the tv breaking news I were shocked and thinking about what are the heroes (that you wrote some of them) are doing right now. I hope never ever again I see such a kind of news but unfortunately still there are a lot of them with different scenarios around the world that are ruining lives of people & beloved ones and spreading fear to the air.
Hi Jesse thank you for the incredible tribute to Moira she was my lifelong best friend and I’m grateful you are keeping her memory alive
Leave a Comment Cancel Reply
Free webinar! Avoid scams this holiday season and beyond. Register today and join us at 7 p.m. Nov. 14.
Where Were You on 9/11? Stories From That Historic Day
Two decades later, people reflect on the tragic events and their lasting impact.
by Sarah Elizabeth Adler, AARP , August 20, 2021
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Visitors browse newspaper front pages with the story of the 9/11 terror attacks at the 9/11 Gallery of the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
En español | For some people, time stopped on Sept. 11, 2001. For others the day remains a blur. But most people have a story about where they were, what they were doing and what ensued as they learned about the terrorist attacks in New York, at the Pentagon and on a plane that crashed in Pennsylvania .
AARP's Full 9/11 Anniversary Coverage
Read and view more stories of rescue, recovery, grieving and healing, as we mark two decades since the tragic attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The events of 9/11 have become part of our American story, a touchstone prompting recollections in the same way the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 or the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986 do for those old enough to remember them. Whether people were on the ground in New York City on 9/11, across the country or in the rural heartland, the day was a collective experience for Americans.
In some cases, the events people saw and experienced on 9/11 spurred them to make life-changing decisions or veer off their planned paths. On this 20th anniversary, we asked seven people who learned of the attacks from afar to share their memories of that fateful Tuesday morning and its impact on their lives.
Victor LaGroon, 51, Washington, D.C.
Courtesy Victor LaGroon
Days like that, you don't forget. At the time I was working for a residential treatment center in Rochester, New York. One of my staff said, “Hey, there was an airplane accident in New York City.” I turned on the news and said to myself, “It's really odd that a plane could hit the World Trade Center.” Planes don't come in that way.
I was watching the live news feed when I saw the second plane slam into the second tower. At that moment, I said to myself, “Things are getting ready to change forever.” I knew something serious was going on.
For me, 9/11 was one of those pivotal moments in life. In 2003, I enlisted in the Army. It wasn't from the perspective of: I want to go be some hero. It was more from the perspective of: It's my turn. My grandfather served in World War II, my dad served in the ‘60s, my youngest cousin was a Gulf War vet. I'm probably the seventh or eighth person in my family to serve in the military. The day before my 35th birthday, I signed my contract.
I came into the military as an intelligence analyst. I served with the 10th Mountain Division in the U.S. Army. One part of our division went to Iraq. My brigade went to Afghanistan. We had great missions, we worked with international forces, we supported special operations and combat operations. My career was cut short because I had several injuries. My options were to get a different job and go to a different unit, or to medically retire. I chose to medically retire.
Like many who have worn a uniform, I'm extremely proud of the opportunity to have served with the people I served with. I think it's the greatest thing I have ever done. It came with a price, but I view my country differently because of the opportunity to serve.
The world stopped
Linda Strader, 65, Green Valley, Arizona
Courtesy Linda Strader
In June 2001, I lost the job where I'd worked since 1998. I sent out résumés to every potential Tucson, Arizona, employer in my field. On Sept. 11 I had three interviews scheduled. My husband was away on a work assignment that week, which was normal. I rose early, went for my morning swim and came inside to get dressed. I'd barely dried off when the phone rang.
"I think you need to turn on the TV,” my dad said. I did, and watched dramatic footage of the twin towers in flames. After 10 minutes, I glanced at the clock. I had my first interview in an hour and a half. Should I go? I decided I had to. It wouldn't look good to be a no-show.
When I hit the interstate, I couldn't help but notice I was about the only person on the road. Something felt very, very wrong. My first stop was in downtown Tucson. The subsequent interview was more about the tragic events unfolding that day than my qualifications.
The next interview was a lunch meeting. Again, the interview had little to do with the job. My potential employer filled me in on the events I'd missed since I'd left my house. After the final interview at 2 p.m. I headed home, feeling as though the world had stopped and would never start again.
Scared, uncertain and afraid to be alone, I called my husband as soon as I walked in the door and asked him to come home early. For weeks, even months, I wondered if life would ever be the same, if the country would ever be safe again.
I didn't land any of those positions, but in November I did finally find a job.
Watching from overseas
Colin Clarke, 40, Pittsburgh
Courtesy Colin Clarke
I was studying abroad at the University of Galway in Ireland. I had been studying history and political science and was interested in international politics; I think our first day of class was Sept. 11.
I remember being called into a classroom with other American students and thinking it was more paperwork. They told us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center and to go back to our rooms and put on the BBC. When I left the university building, I was still under the impression that it was an accident, not a deliberate terrorist attack.
[After the nature of the attacks became clear], I became obsessed with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Salafi jihadist terrorism. I became a voracious reader of anything I could get my hands on related to jihadism, al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.
I went to grad school in 2004 and then went on for a PhD studying international security policy. I've since testified before Congress multiple times, I've worked in the intelligence community, I've written three books now on the topic of terrorism, mostly focusing on al-Qaida and the Islamic State.
I feel like the career chose me. There's no way I would have ended up getting a PhD or becoming an academic [had 9/11 not happened]. I'm from a military family: Both my grandfathers were in the military, as well as uncles, cousins and close friends. If you asked me, Do you have any regrets? Not serving in the military is up there. But I feel like the work that I do is my way of contributing and giving back to national security.
A new perspective on grieving
Jodi O'Donnell-Ames, 55, Titusville, New Jersey
Courtesy Jodi O'Donnell-Ames
I was 35 years old, and six months had passed since I lost my husband, Kevin, to ALS. I was depressed and had no idea how to go on.
I took my 8-year-old daughter and 3-year-old niece to school and drove to work in Philadelphia. On the way, I was listening to NPR and heard the news. I pulled over in panic, grief and disbelief.
I just started to cry. I recognized that I was angry and I felt cheated — but when I heard what happened, I felt guilty because I had six years to say goodbye to my husband. I had six years to let him know in every way, shape and form that I loved him.
That was when I made the commitment to use my horrible experience to help others and to make a difference in the world. Creating my nonprofit [Hopes Loves Company] was a way to make sense of what happened. Hope Loves Company is the only nonprofit in the United States that provides free resources and educational and emotional support to children who have parents living with ALS or who have lost a parent [to the disease].
There is no specific answer or timeline for how long someone will grieve. The only thing we can do is try our hardest to find a way to honor the people we have lost while also finding the strength to continue.
A bigger purpose in life
Jasmit Singh, 53, Olympia, Washington
Courtesy Jasmit Singh
I got up around 3 in the morning; I was flying from the Bay Area to San Diego, where I used to travel for work. It was a 5 or 5:30 a.m. flight — we were in flight when things started happening on the East Coast.
We were redirected to land in Burbank, California. I was miles from where I needed to be. I came out of the airport and still didn't know what had happened; it was not something they announced on the plane. My focus was on, How am I going to get to work?
I rushed to rent a car. When I got on the road, the first sign that there was something wrong was that the people next to me were flipping me off while I was driving. I couldn't understand what was going on — then I turned on the radio, I spoke to my wife and understood the enormity of what had happened.
I drove down to San Diego. By the time I got there, my work had already sent out an email saying that there was no need to come in. I checked into a hotel room and started talking to my friends and to family about [discriminatory] incidents that were happening all around the United States.
Some other friends and I started thinking about what we needed to do to help the [Sikh] community. By that evening, seven or eight of us got together on a call and realized there were no resources to address the kinds of things we were hearing about: assaults, verbal abuse, people being turned away from their workplaces.
For the next six weeks, all of us were focused day and night on [creating resources for the Sikh community]. Out of that came [the advocacy group] the Sikh Coalition. It changed my life. I went from being an engineer focused on career to recognizing that our purpose in life is much, much bigger than that. Our impact has to be about our communities.
'People wanted to be together'
Laura Geller, 71, Los Angeles
Courtesy Laura Geller
I was the senior rabbi at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. We had a community day school at the time, a parochial school. Our executive called and said, “Turn on the television, something important is happening."
My partner at the time, who became my husband, was sitting on an American Airlines flight on Sept. 11 that was scheduled to leave JFK after the first tower had been hit. Thankfully the plane never took off. It was pretty terrifying. You see how life can change in a second. Thankfully for us, it didn't.
That Friday night, our synagogue was filled beyond capacity. People wanted to be together. In a sermon I gave the following year, I told the story of my cousin, who was a 16-year-old student at Stuyvesant, a high school in New York two blocks from the World Trade Center. When the planes hit, her teachers told them to evacuate the school immediately and to run north as fast as they could.
[Her story] led me to be able to talk about what [we hoped] we would have learned from 9/11 and what our commitment to core American values was.
The only way that extremism will ever be moderated is when people find ways to talk to people with whom they disagree, and to recognize that what brings us together ought to be way more powerful than what separates us.
Losing a student
Thomas Plante, 61, Menlo Park, California
Courtesy Thomas Plante
I remember I was going to have a busy day at work. I had to bring my son to kindergarten and was rushing around. Then, we got a phone call from my brother-in-law, who was in New York. He talked to my wife and said, “Put on the TV,” which of course we did.
We watched in horror as the second plane hit the towers. At some point, I brought my son to school and then went to work. I'm a professor at Santa Clara University, a Catholic Jesuit university. They have a daily Mass, and I've never seen the mission church as packed as it was that day, with everybody squeezing in.
I found out later in the day that one of my students and academic advisees was on the plane that went down in Pennsylvania. Then it really hit home. Her name was Deora Bodley. She was a rising junior and psychology major. A delightful student and person.
In 2016, I was in New York City and visited the 9/11 memorial. They have all the names of people who died [inscribed] on the memorial. I didn't expect to see Deora's name because there were so many. I glanced for it, but figured, there's no way I'm going to find it. But I found it.
You had to work hard not to just burst into tears. It was powerful.
Sarah Elizabeth Adler joined aarp.org as a writer in 2018. Her pieces on science, art and culture have appeared in The Atlantic , where she was previously an editorial fellow, California magazine and elsewhere.
More From AARP
AARP Staffers Remember the Day That Changed Everything
Say Their Names: The Role of Ritual in Healing
Return to aarp's 9/11 20th anniversary page.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
You'll start receiving the latest news, benefits, events, and programs related to AARP's mission to empower people to choose how they live as they age.
You can also manage your communication preferences by updating your account at anytime. You will be asked to register or log in.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free to search for ways to make a difference in your community at www.aarp.org/volunteer
Remembering 9/11 with Kids & Teens
Join the Library as we remember the events of September 11, 2001. For many New Yorkers, this time of commemoration is a moment to teach, discuss, and reflect on our recent history with readers who had not yet been born. As the book discussion, recommendations, and resources below attest, there are lots of ways to explore 9/11 and the legacy of that terrible day with kids and teens, both in the classroom and at home.
In 2021, to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, authors Gae Polisner, Tom Rogers, and Nora Raleigh Baskin joined Shauntee Burns-Simpson, the Library's Associate Director of School Support, to discuss their books for children and young adults about the events of that day.
Here are some of the many titles—in addition to those discussed above—that explore the events of September 11, 2001, in a way that will help younger readers to better understand our recent history and the world we live in now.
America Is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell
by Don Brown
A moving and informative account of the 9/11 attacks. Told chronologically from perspectives in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, this illustrated nonfiction book presents details on the attacks, the recovery, and the first responders in a thoughtful and accessible way for children ages 8 and up.
Saved by the Boats: The Heroic Sea Evacuation of September 11
by Julie Gassman, illustrated by Steve Moors
This picture book is based on the story of the heroic boat captains and crews who helped thousands of people get to safety on 9/11. A gentle introduction to 9/11, and a story of hope and humanity for very young children.
This Very Tree: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth
by Sean Rubin
A sensitively written story about the aftermath of 9/11 told from the perspective of a tree that remained standing after the attacks and came to be a symbol of light and hope. Includes an introduction to 9/11 and the World Trade Center. Suggested for children ages 5–7.
What Were the Twin Towers?
by Jim O'Connor
This beginner's guide gives kids information about the Twin Towers from their construction through to the events of September 11, 2001. Suggested for children ages 8 and up.
Branches of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree
by Ann Magee, illustrated by Nicole Wong
An introduction to 9/11 for younger children told from the perspective of a family of firefighters that tells the story of the day itself, the rescue efforts, the memorials, and the survivor tree. Suggested for children ages 5–7.
by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Fifth-grader Deja has started a new school and a new life in Brooklyn. When her teacher begins a lesson about September 11, Deja realizes she knows almost nothing about the events of that day. Along with her new friends at school, she begins a journey to answer questions about 9/11 and learns new things about her family, community, and friendships. Recommended for ages 9–12.
Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story
by Nora Raleigh Baskin
A story of children in different parts of the United States who experience 9/11 from a range of different perspectives. Four middle school kids in Ohio, California, Pennsylvania, and New York City start out on September 10 consumed by their own challenges at home, including grief and dealing with an absentee father. They have no idea that they are all about to come together in the aftermath of 9/11, as their families and communities are affected by the tragic events. Recommended for ages 9–12.
The Memory of Things
by Gae Polisner
On the morning of September 11, 2001, 16-year-old Kyle Donohue watches the first tower come down. Then, while fleeing home to safety, finds a girl covered in ash who has no memory. Suggested for ages 12+.
I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001
by Lauren Tarshis
When the 9/11 attacks hit New York, Lucas rushes to the World Trade Center to try to find his dad and his firefighter "uncle" in this fast-paced novel that will draw younger readers in and help them to connect to history in a meaningful way. Recommended for ages 9–12.
FreedomFlix brings history to life for students. Discover child-friendly introductory videos, e-books, and lesson plans on 9/11 and other related topics. (Library card required)
Kids InfoBits is a child-friendly database with articles on history, current events, and more. This is a useful starting place for searching for reliable information on 9/11 and many other subjects. (Library card required)
- Share full article
10 Ways to Teach About 9/11 With The New York Times
Ideas for helping students think about how the Sept. 11 attacks have changed our nation and world.
By Nicole Daniels and Michael Gonchar
Sept. 11, 2001 , is one of those rare days that, if you ask most adults what they remember, they can tell you exactly where they were, whom they were with and what they were thinking. It is a day seared in memory. But for students who were born in a post- 9/11 world and have grown up in the aftermath, it is complex history that needs to be remembered, taught and analyzed like any other historical event.
Twenty years ago, four commercial planes were hijacked by operatives from the radical Islamist group Al Qaeda. One plane was flown into the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and two others were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. A fourth hijacked plane crashed in Shanksville, Pa. Almost 3,000 people died that day, including more than 400 emergency workers.
In the wake of those attacks, the United States initiated a global “war on terror” to destroy Al Qaeda — a campaign that expanded into decades-long wars in Afghanistan, Iraq (even though Iraq was not responsible for Sept. 11 ) and elsewhere. In the wake of Sept. 11, the United States changed in other fundamental ways as well, from increased police surveillance to a rise in Islamophobia .
Below, we provide a range of activities that use resources from The New York Times, including archival front pages and photographs, first-person accounts, and analysis pieces published for the 20th anniversary . But we also suggest ideas borrowed from other education organizations like the Choices Program , RetroReport , the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the Newseum .
On Sept. 30, we are hosting a free event, featuring Times journalists, for students that will look at how Sept. 11 has shaped a generation of young people who grew up in its aftermath. Teachers and students can register here , and students can submit their own videos with questions, many of which we hope to feature during the live event.
1. Reflect on What 9/11 Means to You
In the essay “ What Does It Mean to ‘Never Forget’? ,” Dan Barry writes:
Inevitably, someday there will be no one alive with a personal narrative of Sept. 11. Inevitably, the emotional impact of the day will fade a little bit, and then a little bit more, as time transforms a visceral lived experience into a dry history lesson. This transformation has already begun; ask any high school history teacher.
Or, ask any student. They are at the center of the transition that Mr. Barry describes.
Invite students to respond to one or more of the following questions, and share their responses with other students from around the world by responding to our related Student Opinion question :
What does Sept. 11 mean to you? Is it mostly a “dry history lesson” or does it resonate for you in deeper ways?
What do you know about the events that took place on Sept. 11? Where and how did you learn about them?
What questions do you have about that day and what happened next?
Have the events of Sept. 11 and its aftermath affected you personally in any way? If so, how? How do you think they may have shaped your generation as a whole?
Note: To ensure your class has a shared understanding of what happened on Sept. 11, you might want to have students watch this two-minute video or scroll through this interactive timeline , both created by the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Alternatively, students can watch this five-minute video from the History Channel which is focused on the attacks at the World Trade Center.
2. Interview Someone Who Remembers
Although teenagers today are too young to have their own personal memories of Sept. 11, people they know and love do. The Choices Program at Brown University has created a lesson plan that walks students through the process of conducting an interview about Sept. 11 with someone they know while also considering the importance of oral history.
The accompanying student handout suggests questions that students may want to ask, such as: What were you doing on Sept. 11, 2001? How did you find out about the attacks?
After conducting their interviews, students can share what they have learned in small groups and with the class. They might even create an oral history book or site that they can share with future classes.
For inspiration or as mentor texts, students can take a look at this “Revisiting the Families” collection of short follow-up interviews and articles that Times reporters did to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the attacks. It offers small glimpses of those who lost family members, and of their lives since.
3. Revisit History’s First Draft
Newspapers have been described as “history’s first draft.” Reporters and editors from around the world who published on the morning of Sept. 12 had less than a day to figure out how to make sense of what happened for their readers.
Invite students to look closely at the New York Times front page (or the full paper ) from that day. They can click on the individual articles as well. What do they notice? What questions does the front page bring up for them? What do they learn about coverage on that first day?
Then they can investigate front pages from other newspapers from around the world and across the country. The Newseum (you’ll need to create a free account) provides images of front pages of over 100 newspapers from dozens of cities — from Anchorage and Richmond, Va., to Turku, Finland, and Osaka, Japan. Business Insider compiled some of the images from the Newseum’s archival, to show what the front pages of newspapers from around the world looked like on Sept. 12 .
Students can choose three or four front pages and take note of the similarities and differences that they see in coverage; what choices might they have made had they been editors that day; and what additional questions these front pages raise for them.
4. Look Closely at Archival Photos
Photographs can be a powerful and accessible way for students to learn more about what happened on and after Sept. 11. Students can study the New York Times photo collection “ The Towers’ Rise and Fall ,” which was originally published on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, to see what stories these 72 images tell about the World Trade Center, the terrorist attacks and the aftermath.
Students can closely investigate two or three images using our What’s Going On in This Picture? protocol from Visual Thinking Strategies :
What is going on in this picture?
What do you see that makes you say that?
What more can you find?
Or, you can invite students to take on the role of curator in a museum who is creating an exhibit about Sept. 11 in New York. They can choose only six to eight photographs to tell the story. Which images would they select and why?
5. Listen to and Read First-Person Stories
Students can watch one or more of the three-minute videos from the “ Portraits Redrawn ” series that was created by The Times for the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. The six videos are all interviews with people who had a family member die in the attacks.
They can watch this 10-minute video from VICE in which a civilian mariner talks about assisting with the world’s largest boat lift that rescued half a million people from Lower Manhattan.
They can also watch this 12-minute RetroReport video that features interviews with emergency workers who survived the attacks at the World Trade Center and do all or part of this related lesson plan (and student activity ).
Or, students can read this article about a survivor navigating life with post-traumatic stress disorder after the attack on the World Trade Center.
After watching or reading, they can consider: What have you learned about Sept. 11 by hearing stories of survivors, families and people who died in the attacks? And, how do first-person stories change, or deepen, your understanding of what happened?
6. Consider the Importance of Memory
Op-docs: where the towers stood, the world trade center wreckage once smoldered here. now visitors come from around the world to learn, remember and grieve the loss of 9/11..
[somber music playing] [airplane engine] See it? Yeah. Am I just seeing things? Oh, jeez. Oh, they’re people. Oh. Oh, jeez, they’re people. They’re people. They’re people. [quiet music playing] I’m going to take us right here to this tree where there in shade and there is sun, so you could have which ever you prefer. So we don’t get in everyone’s way, if we can stay over here on the left hand side, we’ll be in good shape. The memorial is designed for you to make physical contact with it, to actually touch the names. So do not feel that the appropriate behavior that shows respect is to be standoffish. It is not. The only thing that we do ask — and I really doubt that any of you would have the impulse to do this anyhow — do not put things on the name. Coats, elbows, cups, bags, anything like that. The other thing I want to say to you is this was truly — you’re an international group of people — this was the World Trade Center. People from over 90 countries died here that morning. They were Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists. Some made their way in the world washing dishes, others ran powerful companies, but almost every single one of them dies that morning because they do something that all of us do with most of our lives — they woke up and they went to work. [somber music playing] Excuse me. Hello. Hello, hello, hello. There’s no smoking in the plaza. No smoking in the plaza. That’s quite all right. Thank you. So I want to talk to you about the pools. Directly in front of you is the south pool. The south pool stands in the footprint of the South Tower, World Trade Center number two. So that’s exactly where World Trade Center number two stood. Can everyone see that line of trees that goes around the pool? That line of trees represents the outer wall of the building. So that means in a few minutes when we go up to see the falls and you go past those trees, you will be standing in what was once the lobby of World Trade Center number two. You’re going to see the falls. The falls come out in individual rivulets, one for each person killed on 9/11. Goes down about 20 feet or so into a huge pool. In the center of the pool, another opening goes on another 10 feet or so. No matter how hard you try, you can’t see the bottom of that opening because it’s a void, and the void is a symbol of the emptiness that we feel here over the loss of life. I’m sure all of you can see the water under the names. That water comes directly from the pool. What someone will do, visiting a loved one — and please feel free to do the very, very same — take their hand, put it in the water, rub their hand over a name. Water, of course, a symbol of life. And notice how the names are on the wall. They are not arranged in alphabetical order. For example, people who worked in the same office in this building, they’re together. Firefighters out on the same firehouse, together. Police officers out of the same police precinct, together. We call that meaningful adjacencies. People together in death just the way they were together in life. I have a stupid question. The names of the killers. Are they — Absolutely not. Not. Absolutely not. Yeah. The only place you’ll find them is if you should go into the museum, there’s a special part that deals with Al Qaeda. [somber music playing] [water cascading] [somber music playing]
To learn more about the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, students can watch the above 18-minute video from our Film Club series. Then, they can respond to the questions below in writing or discussion.
What moments in this film stood out for you? Why?
Were there any surprises? Anything that challenged what you know — or thought you knew?
What messages, emotions or ideas will you take away from this film? Why?
What connections can you make between this film and your own life or experience? Why? Does this film remind you of anything else you’ve read or seen? If so, how and why?
Then, students can read a 2019 article about the opening of the 9/11 Memorial Glade in Lower Manhattan — a memorial for people, largely rescue and recovery workers, whose illnesses and deaths came years after Sept. 11, 2001.
After watching the video and reading the article, students can reflect on the following questions in a class discussion:
Why do we memorialize people or events? What purpose should a memorial serve?
What purpose does memorializing Sept. 11 serve? How do you think Sept. 11 can be most effectively or meaningfully memorialized?
What concerns or challenges should societies or organizations be mindful of when they create memorials? Why?
If you’re interested in furthering the conversation about the memorial in your class, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum has a collection of resources for teachers and students.
7. Evaluate International Repercussions
How the u.s. military response to the 9/11 attacks led to decades of war., officials who drove the decades-long war in afghanistan look back on the strategic mistakes and misjudgments that led to a 20-year quagmire..
Two decades after invading Afghanistan, the United States is withdrawing, leaving chaos in its wake and the country much as it found it 20 years ago. “The Taliban don’t just control Kabul, but the whole country.” How did a war that began in response to the 9/11 attacks become the longest in American history? “If somebody had told me in 2001 that we were going to be there for another 20 years, I would not have believed them.” And what lessons can be learned for the future? “We were doing the same thing year after year after year, expecting a different result.” “Nearly 2,400 Americans have died in Afghanistan.” “More than 43,000 Afghan civilians lost their lives.” “You can’t remake a country on the American image. You can’t win if you’re fighting people who are fighting for their own villages and their own territory. Those were lessons we thought we learned in Vietnam. And yet, 30, 40 years later, we end up in Afghanistan, repeating the same mistakes.” On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush was visiting an elementary school in Sarasota, Fla., when he received word of an attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. “We’re looking at a live picture of the, of the building right now. And, uh, what would you say? That would be about the 90th floor or so?” The president joined his staff in an empty classroom, where his C.I.A. intelligence briefer, Michael Morell, had been watching the attack unfold. “There was a TV there and the second plane hit.” “Oh my goodness.” “Oh God.” “There’s another one.” “Oh.” “Oh my goodness, there’s another one.” “God.” “And when that happened, I knew that this was an act of terrorism.” At the Capitol in Washington, Representative Barbara Lee’s meeting was interrupted. “I heard a lot of noise saying, ‘Evacuate. Leave. Get out of here. Run fast.’ So, I ran up Independence Avenue. As I turned around, I was able to see a heck of a lot of smoke.” “Another aircraft, unbelievably, has crashed into the Pentagon.” “What you have to understand is this is the largest attack ever in the entire history of the country.” At 9:59 a.m., the second World Trade Center tower to be struck collapsed. Twenty-nine minutes later, the other tower followed. “The president, he asked to see me in his office on Air Force One. The president looked me in the eye and he said, ‘Michael, who did this?’ I told the president that I would bet my children’s future that Al Qaeda was responsible for this attack.” Within hours, evidence surfaced that Al Qaeda, a multinational terrorist organization headed by the Islamic fundamentalist Osama Bin Laden, had committed the attacks. The group was being given safe haven in Afghanistan by the Taliban regime. “The president’s inclination was to hit back and hit back hard.” “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people — ” “So the president decided to go to war.” “ — And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” “We had to go to Afghanistan. There’s no question in any of our minds, it’s a war of necessity. We had to go after Al Qaeda, we had to kill them, we had to get them out, and we had to pursue them to the ends of the earth.” “The word on the street was everyone’s got to be united with the president. You know, the country is in mourning.” Three days after the attacks, Lee was under pressure to vote yes on a resolution in Congress to authorize going to war against Al Qaeda and its allies when she heard a eulogy at a memorial service. “That as we act, we not become the evil we deplore.” “It was at that point I said, We need to think through our military response, our national security response and the possible impact on civilians.” “Mr. Speaker, members, I rise today really with a very heavy heart. One that is filled with sorrow for the families and the loved ones who were killed and injured this week. Yet I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States.” “Got back to the office and all hell was breaking loose.” “The only dissenting voice was Democrat Barbara Lee of California, voting no.” “Phone calls, threats. People were calling me a traitor. She’s got to go. But I knew then it was going to set the stage for perpetual war.” Within weeks of 9/11, the U.S. struck back in Afghanistan. “The United States military has begun strikes against Al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime.” Soon after, U.S. ground troops arrived in the country. “The invasion was a success very quickly.” “At the gates of Kabul, news of a Taliban collapse had already reached these thousands.” “The Taliban retreat has turned into a rout.” “By the end of the year, the Taliban had been driven from power. A large number of Al Qaeda operatives had either been killed or captured.” And although Osama Bin Laden had managed to escape, the U.S. had accomplished its main goal. “Al Qaeda could not operate out of Afghanistan anymore.” President Bush knew there was a history of failed military campaigns in Afghanistan. “We know this from not only intelligence but from the history of military conflict in Afghanistan. It’s been one of initial success followed by long years of floundering and ultimate failure. We’re not going to repeat that mistake.” [Applause] But after his initial success, Bush expanded the mission to nation-building. To prevent further Al Qaeda attacks, his administration said it wanted to transform the poor, war-torn country into a stable democracy, with a strong central government and U.S.-trained military. “The idea was it would be impossible for the Taliban to ever return to power and impossible for Afghanistan to ever be used as a safe haven again.” “There were girls starting to go to school, there were clinics and hospitals being set up, there were vaccinations, there were elections planned. Everything was kind of humming along and we all thought, OK, this is going to be fine.” But by the mid-2000s, after the Bush administration expanded the war on terror to Iraq, Richard Boucher realized that the U.S.-backed Afghan government was plagued by corruption and mismanagement. “I used to say to my guys on the Afghan desk, ‘If we’re winning, how come it don’t look like we’re winning?’” “The Taliban have staged a major comeback, seizing control of large swaths of the country.” “The people were not rejecting the Taliban. And that was, in the end, because the government couldn’t deliver much for the people. Everybody had this idea in their heads that government works the way it does in Washington. But Afghanistan hasn’t worked that way in the past. I think that was a moment we should’ve at least asked ourselves whether it wasn’t really time for us to leave and to say to the Afghans, ‘It’s your place, you run it as best you can.’” Instead, by 2011, President Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, had sent nearly 50,000 more troops to Afghanistan, hoping to reverse the Taliban’s gains. “I think one of the biggest mistakes we made strategically, after 9/11, was to fail to finish the job here, focus our attention here. We got distracted by Iraq.” One of those troops was Marine Captain Timothy Kudo. Part of his job was to shore up support for the government by digging wells and building schools. He soon lost faith in that mission after, he says, his company killed two Afghan teenagers they mistakenly believed were firing on them. “And their family saw this happen. The mothers, the grandmothers, they came out. It was the first time I’d ever seen an Afghan woman without wearing a burqa. They were sobbing and crying uncontrollably. I mean, how can you kill two innocent people and expect anything that you say to matter at that point?” “People here have little faith in U.S. forces anymore. More Afghans now blame the violence here on the U.S. than on the Taliban.” Weeks after Kudo returned home from Afghanistan, there was a monumental development. “I started getting all these texts, like, ‘You’ve got to check out the TV.’ My roommate calls me from the other room. ‘Turn on CNN.’” “The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda.” “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” “In that moment, people are celebrating in front of the White House. They’re celebrating by Ground Zero.” “This is where it happened. We’re back. It’s justice!” “And to my mind, there’s no more reason to go through this madness. And, of course, we then did it for another decade.” “I think the military and the national security apparatus thought they could win. And I think that they also wanted to believe that because they had invested so much. People had died and they didn’t want them to die in vain.” “2011, Bin Laden is now dead. Why was it so hard to de-escalate?” Jeffrey Eggers was on President Obama’s National Security Council. He says that the goal since 9/11, to make sure Afghanistan would never again be a safe haven for terrorists, had become a recipe for endless war. “We will forever prevent the conditions that led to such an attack.” “Danger close!” [Gunfire] “And if you define it that way, when are you finished?” [Gunfire] “Go! Come on, come on, come on!” Though the surge failed to push back the Taliban, the U.S. drew down troop levels even as doubts were growing that Afghan forces would be able to defend the country. In 2021, President Biden, the fourth president to preside over the war, announced that he would withdraw U.S. troops, a plan set in motion by his predecessor, Donald Trump. “Nobody should have any doubts. We lost the war in Afghanistan.” “And we’re clear to cross?” “It wasn’t a peace agreement; it was a withdrawal agreement. The agreement was essentially, As we withdraw, don’t attack us.” As the U.S. leaves Afghanistan, the Taliban is taking over again, having quickly overrun the Afghan Army, which the U.S. spent more than $80 billion to train and equip. “The Taliban are out in full force. And their Islamist rule is already coming back.” “They can use this as a recruiting tool. They are now the champions of the jihadi movement because they pushed out the United States.” And U.S. officials are reflecting on the beginning of the war, 20 years after 9/11. “More people should have thought about endless war, not just in Congress but in the State Department, in the Defense Department, C.I.A. and elsewhere, in the White House. That the recipe of using military means to go after terrorism was just going to get us into one fight after another after another. One can only hope that Americans of the new generation will think about this.”
In an address to Congress and the nation on Sept. 20, 2001, President George W. Bush made it clear that the response to the terrorist attacks would not be confined to a single military strike on one group, network or country: “Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”
Help students uncover the motivation behind the attacks and evaluate the international repercussions of the “war on terror” using the following resources:
The Terrorist Attack : Who was responsible for the attacks on Sept. 11? Why did they target the United States, and particularly civilians? Britannica and USA Today each offer brief summaries of the plot and the roles of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. To go more in depth, you might have students watch the three-part documentary series “ Road to 9/11 ” from the History Channel, which provides a 360-degree overview of events that led to the attack.
To help students understand why the World Trade Center, Pentagon and U.S. Capitol were targeted, see the 9/11 Memorial and Museum lesson plan, “ Targeting American Symbols .”
The U.S. Response and the Global “War on Terror”: On Oct. 7, 2001, just weeks after the attacks, Mr. Bush announced that America had started a bombing campaign against Al Qaeda, the group responsible for the attacks, and the Taliban, the group that harbored them in Afghanistan.
So began the longest war in American history, which ended this year with the removal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. What did the war accomplish? Use our Lesson of the Day on “ The U.S. War in Afghanistan: How It Started, and How It Ended ” to have students evaluate the causes and consequences of the 20-year conflict. They can also watch the 10-minute RetroReport video (embedded above), which looks at the decisions that shaped the war. And, they can use our Lesson of the Day “ What Will Become of Afghanistan’s Post-9/11 Generation? ” about how the lives of young people in Afghanistan have suddenly changed with the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
Beyond The Times, see the five-part lesson plan “ The Costs of War ,” created by the Choices Program, which examines the human, economic, social and political costs of the “war on terror” through videos and class discussions.
Veterans of the War in Afghanistan: Listen to voices of veterans in The Argument podcast episode “ You Don’t Bring Democracy at the Point of a Gun ” or read about their experiences in the essay “ Serving in a Twenty Year War .” How do these firsthand accounts and perspectives change how students understand the realities of the so-called war on terror? What questions would they ask these veterans if they were New York Times reporters?
After exploring one or more of the pieces in this section, students might discuss the prompts below:
What is terrorism? Why do some individuals and groups target civilians for political purposes?
Was the United States justified in using military force in Afghanistan after Sept. 11? What is the legacy of the “war on terror”? Has it made us safer?
What lessons can we learn from the war? How do you think the United States and other countries should work toward preventing future terrorist attacks? If the United States, or another country, were hit by foreign terrorism again in the future, how should we respond? What principles, critical questions and experiences should help us form our response?
8. Examine Ripple Effects in the United States
In the two decades since Sept. 11, many aspects of American life have changed, from travel and art to education and immigration . Your conversation with students about post-9/11 America could take on any one or many of these topics. Below, we suggest two possible lenses, based on recent Times texts, through which to examine the ripple effects in the United States:
Muslims in America : Invite students to read “ Muslim Americans’ ‘Seismic Change’ ” by Elizabeth Dias and consider how the aftermath of Sept. 11 has brought both challenges, including a surge in Islamophobia, but also possibilities for the Muslim American community, such as the election of Muslim Americans to Congress and award-winning television featuring Muslim American actors and stories, that would have been unfathomable 20 years ago.
Civil Liberties and Surveillance: Two decades after the attacks, police departments across the United States, and particularly the N.Y.P.D., are using counterterrorism tools, like facial recognition software, to combat routine street crime. Although police officials say these methods have helped thwart would-be attacks, others say they subject everyday people to “near-constant surveillance — a burden that falls more heavily on people of color.” Invite students to read “ How the N.Y.P.D. Is Using Post-9/11 Tools on Everyday New Yorkers ” and debate the benefits and drawbacks of these tactics.
After reading one or both of these articles, students might discuss the following questions:
In what important ways has Sept. 11 transformed American life?
Did anything described in the articles connect with anything you’ve experienced, read or witnessed? How have these changes affected your life, whether you knew it or not?
What does America’s response to Sept. 11 say about the United States today?
9. Explore Why Conspiracy Theories Sometimes Flourish
Today’s students are often familiar with conspiracy theories and their popularity on social media. Here is how one student responded to our 2020 Student Opinion question: Do You Think Online Conspiracy Theories Can Be Dangerous? :
Conspiracy theories can either be malicious, dumb fun, or anything in between. Some conspiracy theories can be serious and about tragedies such as 9/11, but some conspiracy theories can be interesting, such as bots in a video game being alive. I enjoy a conspiracy theory every now or then, but I wouldn’t take them as an absolute truth, you always have to take them with a grain of salt.
In the article “ How a Viral Video Bent Reality ,” Kevin Roose writes about how the conspiracy film “Loose Change” energized the “9/11 truther” movement and also supplied the template for the current age of disinformation.
Students can read this article and consider some of the questions raised in the article:
Why do you think some people are drawn to conspiracy theories?
What role does technology play in the spread of conspiracy theories?
Respond to this quote from the article: “A more urgent lesson to take from ‘Loose Change’ is that conspiracy theories tend to flourish in low-trust environments, during periods of change and confusion.” Why do you think that is? How does that lesson apply to today’s world?
You can pair this article with the Student Opinion question mentioned above, inviting students to post their own comments in response to that question, or with our Lesson of the Day “How to Deal With a Crisis of Misinformation,” which includes strategies for countering misinformation.
10. Watch Our On-Demand Panel for Students: The Post-9/11 Generation
How did 9/11 shape the generation that grew up in its aftermath?
With New York Times journalists and student voices, we discuss this question in our special interactive panel. The panel features Yousur Al-Hlou and Biz Herman, who examined how Sept. 11 has been taught in classrooms around the world, and Kiana Hayeri, who photographed young Afghans as they experienced the recent withdrawal of U.S. troops from their country. Invite students to register and view the on-demand panel .
Want more? For the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, in 2011, we published this roundup of hundreds of resources from The Learning Network and The New York Times for teaching about Sept. 11 and the aftermath, including ideas from educators across the country and links to the front pages of The Times for the 10 days after Sept. 11.
Nicole Daniels has been a staff editor with The Learning Network since 2019. More about Nicole Daniels
- International edition
- Australia edition
- Europe edition
9/11 stories: Our Dead, Your Dead by Kamila Shamsie
"Hussain just called. He's been queuing at the petrol pump for the last twenty minutes. But he says he'll be here before load shedding kicks off."
A sigh went up around the StreetSmart office. Every time the magazine's generator ran out of petrol the load-shedding seemed to start earlier than scheduled, and the air-conditioned cool on the twelfth floor wouldn't last more than a few minutes after the power cut out. The editor's decision, taken on the third day of Ramzan, to start working post-Iftar and carry on until dawn so everyone could sleep through the hours of deprivation was considerably less appealing with the prospect of spending it sweating in the dark until Hussain got back.
And right away it happened, of course. The abrupt silence of the air conditioner shutting down, followed by a volley of loud beeps as the desktops switched to UPS mode, and the roar of generators up and down the fifteen-story office block. More and more people seemed to be working through the night as Ramzan wore on.
"Look at this before the UPS cuts out."
Everyone pushed chairs away from desks and clustered around the designer's massive screen which was now the main source of light in the open-plan office. The cover mock-up glowed with a bright blue sky, dark clouds floating across it in letter formation – at the top, the magazine's title in large billowing puffs; beneath it, smaller clouds spelling out Guantánamo, Drone Attacks, Waterboarding, Islamophobia, Racial Profiling, Patriot Act.
The designer was Abrar – a twentysomething LUMS graduate wearing a T-shirt which showed Mohammad Ali Jinnah saying Dude, where's my country? As he angled the screen to allow the others a better view, Ayla saw that the clouds weren't clouds at all; they were smoke trailing from the tops of the Twin Towers.
"This is not a good idea at all. At all."
Ayla was relieved she hadn't had to be the one to say so, particularly because the person to issue an objection to the cover image was Iqbal Sahib, the marketing man who obtained his position on the strength of a two-line email: FAMILY IN WAZIRISTAN. WITH CAMERAS. Any complaints that he'd been hired ahead of graduates with degrees from American universities had been forgotten as soon as StreetSmart's debut issue started to attract international attention with its photographs and eye-witness accounts of civilian casualties in the wake of an army operation against militants. If Iqbal Sahib was the reason for the success of the first issue, Abrar was the reason the magazine got as far as a second; his father had used his connections in the intelligence services to broker a deal for its survival. Issue two led with a cover story about army widows whose husbands had been killed by suicide bombers, which managed to imply that Indian agents posing as Taliban might have been behind some of the attacks. All this Ayla had learnt on her first day at work, just a few weeks ago.
But Iqbal Sahib's objections, it turned out, were not Ayla's own. If American magazines wanted to observe the ten year anniversary of 9/11, fine, he said. But for a Pakistani magazine to do that would simply buy into the American story about the attacks: that they came 'from out of the blue' ; as if Osama hadn't been on the FBI's Most Wanted List since 1988; as if the whole disgraceful nonsense around propping up jihadis against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and then leaving Afghanistan to descend into a swamp of civil war and Pakistani Interference hadn't got anything to do with anything; as if Islam hadn't already been identified as the next enemy; as if there was something singular – something exceptional – about suffering when it happened to Americans.
It was singular, Ayla found herself wanting to say. It was exceptional.
The arts editor, Saba, a woman who called herself Vegetarian-Atheist, though she was neither, dismissed the image on the screen with a wave of her hand and directed everyone's attention to the print out she'd pinned on to the wall earlier that week.
"If we're going to put words on the cover we should just use my War on Terror glossary."
It was too dark to make out the words but Ayla still found herself looking at the lines of print, which she was annoyed to find she had memorised.
Guantánamo: Cuban song with various extraordinary (Joan Baez, Buena Vista Social Club) and rather ordinary (Julio Iglesias and Nana Mouskouri duet) renditions Drone attacks: what happens when George Lucas gives up on character and plot in favour of CGI Islamo-facism: the fall collection's follow-up to heroin chic Islamophobia: fashionista response to Anna Wintour pursing lips at the above Terror cells: HIV/Cancer/Man-flu Racial profiling: sideways mugshots Abbottabad: if OBL was there, who's in Costelloabad?
It might have been funny, coming from somebody else. But everything she had found maddening about life in Karachi since returning here after 15 years away was summed up by Saba's cool cynicism, her been-there-bought-the-T-shirt attitude to all disasters.
"You're such a burger," Abrar said. "Anna Wintour? Joan Baez?"
"I'm not the only one with Western cultural references, young jedi," she replied.
"Don't talk that way, man. Lucas is universal." He locked his fists together and rotated his wrists, humming and buzzing as he defended himself with his imaginary light sabre. Saba laughed, and Ayla saw a flash of the friendship she'd been told about – a friendship founded on a shared desire for Hussain, which had quickly dissolved as soon as the lanky, sloe-eyed editorial assistant had made his preferences clear.
"The whole point of this cover, Iqbal Sahib, is it says that our story of 9/11 isn't about what was done to America but about what has been done since, by America, in its name." The editor-in-chief, known to her subordinates as the General, had entered the office, a solar-powered torch in her hands.
"Come on people. Back to work." Everyone shuffled back to their desks, lighting candles or activating torch apps on their SmartPhones. "Oh and Ayla, in response to your email – no, we don't need a story on how America thinks about 9/11 Ten Years On. We already know they still think it's the Greatest Tragedy to hit Planet Earth. If you can't figure out a Pakistan angle for the issue maybe you should head back to Boston."
Our story of 9/11. Our story about your tragedy. If you don't mourn our dead why should we mourn yours? We might get into trouble for attacking our own government but you don't care what we say so we'll just lay into you instead, why don't we?
Ayla wrote and deleted one bad-tempered sentence after another and thought of that day when a university friend from Wisconsin responded to the news that Pakistan had suffered more than 250 suicide attacks since 2002 with a sad shake of the head and a "I hope your government has learnt the connection between sowing and reaping". It wasn't the quality of the insight, Ayla had realised, but her own estimation of the speaker's right to criticise which made her furious with her friend, or indeed with the General.
"Someone call Hussain and find out how much longer he'll be." The question sounded as though it could have been for anyone at all, but the General was looking straight at Saba.
"I just tried. He's not answering. Maybe he's on the road."
"As if being on the road stops him from answering," Abrar said. "No sense of road safety that one. I'm going to buy him a Bluetooth earpiece for his birthday."
"Spare my boyfriend your taste in accessories," Saba said.
Whatever tart comment Abrar was about to spit out in response died in his throat as Iqbal Sahib came hurrying in with a kettle of boiling water from next door. "Didn't you hear that? Something just exploded on the flyover. Some of the windows on the other side of the building have shattered."
"Something exploded – or someone?"
"Don't know yet. Next door will tell us when Geo knows more."
Ayla imagined herself saying into the silence: My office was there. In the second tower. I wasn't there that morning, but many of my friends didn't make it out.
"Friends" was a lie. She had only been to the office twice, once during the interview process and once after she'd been offered the job; she hadn't been due to start work until September 17. "Colleagues" sounded too cold, though. "Colleagues" didn't convey how the memory of every smile, every word of welcome became magnified in the aftermath, representing friendships cut off, flirtations crushed, lovers wrenched away. Not lovers, lover. The man whose direct glance and shy smile had made her heart leap with possibility in the way that it did on an almost daily basis back then. She didn't know his name, had no way of telling whether he was one of those who made it out or not, but at some point she had simply decided that he was the Peter on the list of fatalities. She'd had no communication with anyone from the office after that day except the HR person who understood entirely why she moved right back to the familiarity of Boston the week after the attacks.
No one in the office was even pretending to work – Ayla blamed the combination of post-Iftar stupor and load-shedding inertia. Abrar was on the balcony, smoking though he'd supposedly quit at the start of Ramzan, and jabbering on one mobile phone while stabbing out a text on the other; Iqbal Sahib and the General had left the office, muttering about "keeping up with developments"; Saba was pressed into the corner of the office where it was possible to piggyback on to next door's broadband scrolling through Twitter posts with the hashtag "Karachi".
The intern had stacked a printer and chair onto her desk to make room for her prayer-mat – she usually waited until much later to say her Ishaa prayers – and was proceeding through the cycle of standing-kneeling-prostrating with enviable suppleness, her "Bismillah" and "Aameen" spoken aloud with a fervour which made Ayla wonder if it was meant as a rebuke to those who weren't similarly genuflecting – since when had the laid-back intern joined the self-righteous brigade?
What would they say if she told them, Ayla wondered? She looked across the office at the bumper sticker pasted on the wall under Saba's print out: America had 9/11; England had 7/7; India had 26/11; Pakistan has 24/7. They were all to-the-marrow Karachiwallas, steeped in a bitter "survivor humour" which had been refined through decades of violence. The men who strapped bombs to their chests in the name of God were just the newest form of attackers, not even the deadliest. Would she be able to puncture her colleagues' grotesque oneupmanship?
It wouldn't be the first time she'd used that day to improve her own position. In 2002 the Syrian visa in her Pakistani passport was enough to send her to the secondary examination room at Logan Airport, where the man from Homeland Security – perfectly polite – started to ask her routine questions. My office was in the second tower, she had said. Can you imagine how it feels to have to go through this? He couldn't have been more apologetic, more genuine in his contrition; she, by contrast, was all performance with her trembling-lipped indignation.
Iqbal Sahib and the General came back in whispering and shaking their heads. Had Ayla missed an argument? The General sat down next to Saba, who ignored the older woman, staring at the screen in front of her and steadily tapping refresh. Iqbal Sahib walked onto the balcony and prised both phones out of Abrar's hand, before giving him a little push back into the office.
"We could always save the tenth anniversary special until next May," Ayla said into the stillness of the room. "May 8 2012."
There was silence, slightly aggressive or perhaps that was just her imagination because how, after all, could silence be aggressive. Finally the editor said, "And that would be the tenth anniversary of…?"
"The Sheraton attack. The first suicide bombing in Pakistan." She couldn't keep the slight note of triumph from her voice at being the only one in possession of this knowledge.
The most unexpected sound followed: Saba, crying – followed by Abrar.
Ayla looked around the office. Everyone except her seemed to understand what was going on. She tried to make out Iqbal Sahib's expression, but it was lost in the shadows. If only there were proper light in here. Why didn't Hussain hurry up?
How could it possibly be taking him this long?
- September 11 2001
- 9/11 stories
- Short stories
- Original writing
Introducing 9/11 stories
9/11 stories: Temple of Tears by Geoff Dyer
9/11 stories: Second Skull by Rob Magnuson Smith
9/11 stories: iAnna by Will Self
9/11 stories: The Second Death of Martin Lango by Helon Habila
9/11 stories: Echo by Laila Lalami
After 9/11: our own low, dishonest decade
Remembering September 11
Learn how this historic day in 2001 changed the lives of those living in the United States—and around the world.
On September 11, 2001, people in New York City woke up to a beautiful late summer day. It was a Tuesday, and people were preparing for another day at work and school.
Thousands of people headed for the World Trade Center, a complex of seven buildings that included a pair of skyscrapers known as the twin towers. Each tower had 110 stories and stood about 1,360 feet high. The tallest buildings in New York City at the time, the twin towers rose above the city’s downtown skyline. Nobody there knew that in just a few hours, both buildings would fall.
A shocking event
People who live in New York are used to seeing and hearing airplanes flying overhead. But on the morning of September 11, people stopped on the streets and looked up. The sound of an approaching airplane was too loud, and the plane seemed to be flying too low. To the horror of people watching below, the airplane flew straight into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
American Airlines Flight 11 hit the north tower at 8:46 a.m. The impact of the crash tore a hole that stretched from the 93rd to 99th floors of the building. Smoke and flames poured out of the tower. Many people thought they had just seen a terrible accident. But 17 minutes later, a second plane flew into another one of the World Trade Center buildings—this time into the south tower.
United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the 77th through 85th floors of the south tower at 9:03 a.m. Some cell phone and TV station cameras caught the second attack on film. The footage was played over and over again on television. Soon people knew that hijackers—individuals who capture an aircraft, ship, or vehicle by force—had taken over the planes. A group of men had taken control of the cockpit of each airplane and flown them into the buildings on purpose.
The attack continues
The United States was under attack. About half an hour after the second tower was struck in New York City, hijackers crashed a third airplane. American Airlines Flight 77 hit the west side of the Pentagon, a five-sided concrete building that serves as headquarters for the U.S. Department of Defense, in Arlington, Virginia , just outside Washington, D.C. The plane’s fuel tanks exploded, and two giant fireballs blasted into the air.
The U.S. government ordered all airplanes flying over the country to land as soon as possible. But it was too late for United Airlines Flight 93. Hijackers had already taken control of this fourth aircraft. They were flying the plane toward Washington, D.C.
Passengers and crew members on the plane called loved ones, who told them about the other attacks in New York and Virginia. People on Flight 93 thought their aircraft would be used as a weapon, too. So they fought the hijackers to try to get control of the plane. In a phone call recorded as passengers and crew began to fight back, passenger Todd Beamer was heard saying, “Are you ready? OK, let’s roll.”
Flight 93 eventually crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania . The crash site was close to the hijackers’ likely target, a government building in Washington, D.C.
The rescue begins
Back in New York City, dark smoke poured from the twin towers. People rushed to escape the area, which later became known as ground zero. First responders—including police officers, firefighters, and paramedics—arrived within minutes of the first attack on the World Trade Center. They rushed into both towers to help people trapped inside, even though it would be an extremely difficult rescue operation. Almost all the elevators in the twin towers had stopped working. So rescuers started climbing up the stairs, but many were blocked by rubble or fire. Still, firefighters forged ahead, ignoring the danger. ( Read more about the heroes of 9/11 .)
The towers fall
When the airplanes hit the twin towers, they caused massive damage. Concrete floors were destroyed. Steel support beams were cut in two. Floors above the crash sites started to sag downward. Meanwhile, the sprinklers in both buildings were damaged. There was nothing to stop the raging fires, which became hot enough to weaken steel. The buildings grew unstable. Then they collapsed.
The south tower fell first. Once it began to crumble, it took only 10 seconds for it to collapse. The impact caused the north tower to shake, and it, too, crumbled to the ground 29 minutes later.
First responders helped many people before the twin towers collapsed. More than 25,000 made it out of the buildings before they fell. But nearly 3,000 people—from the twin towers, the Pentagon, and the four airplanes—died in the attacks that day.
The official response
The events of September 11, 2001, shook the nation. The U.S. government had to respond. President George W. Bush led the country in a day of prayer and remembrance. Then he led the nation’s effort to find and punish the people who had caused the attacks.
A terrorist group based in Afghanistan (a country in the Middle East) called al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. Their leader was Osama bin Laden. Al Qaeda and bin Laden considered the United States to be their enemy, which is why the hijackers used the airplanes to attack important U.S. buildings. In total, 19 hijackers took over the four planes that crashed on 9/11.
World leaders promised to help the United States punish al Qaeda and locate their leader. In October 2001, the United States and its allies started military actions in Afghanistan, searching for members of al Qaeda who worked with bin Laden to plan and carry out the 9/11 attacks. It would take nearly 10 years for these forces to locate and kill bin Laden himself, who was eventually discovered hiding in nearby Pakistan in May 2011.
Although the 9/11 attacks took place in the United States, many people from other countries felt that a terrorist attack on such a powerful nation was a threat to peace around the world. They brought flowers to U.S. embassies and lit candles to honor the victims. They gathered to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” One French newspaper showed its support with the front-page headline “Nous sommes tous Américains,” meaning: “We are all Americans.”
After the attacks, many people in the United States wanted to show support for their country, too. They gave flowers, candles, food, and thank-you notes to first responders. U.S. residents and organizations also donated a record-breaking $2.8 billion to help the families of victims of the attacks. By the end of 2001, more than 300 U.S. charities were raising money for the cause.
Most Americans tried to help others after the 9/11 attacks. But some people took their anger and fear out on people who looked like they came from the same Middle Eastern countries as the hijackers. Innocent people who had nothing to do with the events of 9/11 were attacked and not treated fairly.
20 years later
A lot has changed since September 11, 2001. To prevent similar terrorist attacks from happening in the country, the United States government created the Department of Homeland Security in 2002. The organization is responsible for border security, immigrations and customs, and disaster relief and prevention. But they also keep a close watch over suspected terrorist groups and send warnings if they think the country and its people are in danger. That way, the government can protect them.
Air travel became stricter after 9/11. Before the attacks, private security companies performed all airport screenings. After September 11, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created to give the federal government direct responsibility for all airport screenings. In 2002, the TSA began using explosive detection systems nationwide to screen all bags for explosives. They also installed more advanced technologies, such as the full-body scanner, to ensure travelers weren’t trying to bring anything harmful on an airplane. (The hijackers used weapons they had carried onboard to gain control of the aircrafts.) Other rules—like using small containers for liquids like shampoo or removing shoes during security checks—were put in place to make sure people didn’t sneak dangerous things onboard.
The United States also entered a long war on terror abroad. In addition to sending troops to Afghanistan, Bush also sent troops to Iraq in 2003 because of rumors that the country was hiding dangerous weapons. By the time Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, some 4,500 American soldiers had died in Afghanistan and Iraq, with many thousands more wounded.
Many Americans felt the loss of life wasn’t worth it—bin Laden was still missing, and no weapons were ever found. But in 2011, bin Laden was finally located and killed. His death was a blow to al Qaeda and gave some U.S. citizens hope that progress was being made in the fight against terrorism.
By the end of 2011, Obama had withdrawn all combat troops from Iraq. But U.S. troops were still fighting in Afghanistan by the end of his second term in 2017. And another terrorist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), threatened the region throughout Obama’s presidency and into Donald Trump ’s single term as president, too.
During Trump’s term in office, he announced the removal of all troops from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021. Trump’s successor, Joe Biden , delayed the removal, announcing that the United States would be removing all troops from Afghanistan by August 31 instead, just before the 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Honoring the victims
Memorials now stand to pay tribute to those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City contains pools set within each area where the twin towers stood; the names of all the 9/11 victims from each tower are inscribed on bronze panels. At the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, each of the 184 benches is dedicated to a victim of the Virginia attack. And the Tower of Voices at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania has 40 wind chimes to honor the plane’s passengers and crew members.
The attacks on September 11, 2001, shook the world and made people realize that even a powerful country like the United States could be a victim of terrorism. But the horrific event also brought Americans closer together. As U.S. senator John Kerry said at the time, “It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.”
Text partially adapted from the Nat Geo Kids book September 11 by Libby Romero.
Read This Next
Heroes of 9/11.
- Personality Quiz
(ad) national geographic readers: september 11, video: 50 birds, 50 states.
- Your California Privacy Rights
- Interest-Based Ads
- About Nielsen Measurement
- Do Not Sell My Info
- National Geographic
- National Geographic Education
- Shop Nat Geo
- Customer Service
- Manage Your Subscription
Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society Copyright © 2015-2023 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved
The 9/11 survivor story that stays with me: David Muir reflects
When the second plane hit, Florence Jones had to find her own way to escape.
Of the last 25 people who made it out of the World Trade Center's south tower on Sept. 11, 2001, Florence Jones was number 18.
Her story is one I have always carried with me.
Sept. 11, 2001, was a beautiful morning, until it wasn’t. Like so many, Florence has long described the clear, blue skies, and the kindness on full display. That morning was like so many others, until she says, it descended into hell on Earth.
Florence worked as a manager on the 77th floor of the south tower. The north tower was hit first, and she remembers going up to 78th floor to tell colleagues they should leave. She went back down the escalator to the 77th floor and moments later, the second plane hit. Just one floor above her.
Many of the colleagues she had just seen were now gone, including Jill Maurer Campbell, a young mother. Florence has always said she will never forget Jill’s smile, especially the day Jill brought her baby boy, Jake, to the office.
When the second plane hit, Florence had to find her own way to escape. She joined a small group of colleagues and started down the smoke-filled stairwell, holding hands, holding each other’s shirts, guiding one another. She remembers her boss, fearing Florence might fall on the way down, suggesting she take her shoes off. He carried her shoes the rest of the way down. They helped each other out.
For years, those debris-covered shoes sat in a box under her bed. Now, they’re in the 9/11 museum.
MORE: 'The Longest Shadow': 20 years later, 9/11 families seek justice -- and peace
Florence survived the attack on the twin towers and ever since, has always conveyed a quiet sense of purpose, a sense of responsibility after having survived that dark day.
She has shared so many deeply personal reflections. For one, she will never forget looking out and seeing men and women in the north tower standing at the window’s edge after the first plane hit.
“To see these young people doing the sign of the cross and jumping. You’re like, oh my God,” she told me.
It remains one of her most painful memories of that day. Florence has always said she didn’t look away out of sheer dignity for those who had no choice. She believed someone needed to bear witness to their suffering. To this day, she says they were among the true heroes of that day.
MORE: Unanswered questions, anger and suspicion loom 20 years after 9/11
Ten years ago, she took me along on what used to her walk to work, past the fire station where she would always wave to the firefighters standing in the doorway. Florence had not been inside Ground Zero until she went with us then. The giant craters left from the towers were now reflecting pools.
As we approached the pools, Florence put her hand to her face. And we knew. It all came flooding back. The loved ones, the colleagues, and the faces of those brave men and women who never made it out.
Etched in bronze at the pool’s edge, among the thousands of names, was her friend's -- Jill Maurer Campbell.
Recently, 20 years after 9/11, Florence received a phone call from Jill's son.
Jake Campbell, who is now nearly 20 years old, asked her if she could offer anything she remembered about his mom.
Florence told him of her smile, her kindness, and her one true joy: being a mother. She told Jake she remembers that she had never seen his mother happier then that day she brought him to the office all those years ago.
Then, having learned of Jake's own life -- he's now a student at the University of Michigan -- Florence told him that his mother would have been very proud of him.
On this 20th anniversary of 9/11, I had the chance to meet Jake. He told me those words from Florence were a gift.
Watch a special edition of “20/20” with David Muir on Friday, Sept. 10, at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
- September 11th
Wisconsin woman found guilty of killing friend with eye drops
- 3 hours ago
Prosecutors seek emergency protective order in Trump case after video disclosure
- Nov 14, 4:12 PM
Democrats help Johnson pass GOP bill to avoid government shutdown
Reporter who is refusing to divulge her sources could be held in contempt of court
- Nov 14, 12:20 AM
6 people, including 3 teens, killed in multi-vehicle crash on Ohio highway: Police
Abc news live.
24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events
- Main content
September 11: 9 incredible stories of people who survived 9/11
- Today marks 22 years since a series of coordinated terrorist attacks took place on September 11, 2001.
- A total of 2,977 people were killed in New York City, Washington, DC, and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
- Those who survived had their lives transformed by the attacks. Here are some of their stories.
Genelle Guzman-McMillan was the last person pulled alive from the rubble
Guzman-McMillan and her colleagues decided to take the staircase down after the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. When they reached the 13th floor, the tower collapsed on them.
Guzman-McMillan, now 51, was the lone survivor among her colleagues and was miraculously rescued after spending 27 hours trapped under the rubble.
Brian Clark was one of only 18 people in the South Tower to escape from a floor above where the plane struck
During his descent from the 84th floor of 2 World Trade Center, where the office of his international brokerage firm was, Clark stopped to save the life of a man — Stanley Praimnath — who was trapped.
Praimnath was pinned underneath some debris behind a wall that had stood firm, and Clark, who is 75, was able to hook his arms around Praimnath and lift him over.
Source: PBS, Independent
Tom Canavan dug upwards and crawled out of the rubble
Canavan, who worked at the First Union brokerage firm, was buried alive when the first tower fell on 9/11. He was saved from death, he told Reuters, because a large cement wall fell over him which created a safe pocket in the pile of debris.
He began crawling and digging upwards, out of the rubble, and eventually got to safety.
In footage shared by National Geographic from September 11, 2001, Canavan describes his escape with remarkable calmness.
Source : Reuters
Captain Jay Jonas survived because he stopped to rescue a fallen woman
Captain Jay Jonas, and five of his firefighters from Ladder Company 6, were exiting a search and rescue mission in the North Tower shortly after the South Tower collapsed.
While Jonas and the unit were on their way down the stairs, they spotted Josephine Harris — a 59-year-old bookkeeper who had fallen and was unable to continue her descent. They stopped to help get her to safety.
Shortly after, the North Tower collapsed around them, but Harris and the men were not crushed.
"You cannot say that something that happened to you is a miracle," Jonas told The New York Times. "But we had the courage to do what we did, and you can say that if she was not there for us to save her, we probably would not have made it."
Source: The New York Times
Lauren Manning had burns over 80 percent of her body
Manning was arriving for work at the North Tower moments before the first jet crashed into it. As she entered the elevator that would take her to her office, she was met by a fireball.
She was burned on over 80 percent of her body and spent almost two months in a medically induced coma. Manning made a recovery that surprised doctors.
In 2013, then-President Barack Obama cited Manning as an example of American people who "bounce back."
In July 2016, she gave a widely-acclaimed speech at the Democratic National Convention.
Sources: Newsday , The New York Times , The Washington Post
Brian Birdwell survived the attack on the Pentagon and later became a state senator
Texas State Senator Brian Birdwell, 61, was a lieutenant colonel in the US and was working at the Pentagon when it was struck by the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 on September 11, 2001.
He was left with severe burns over 60 percent of his body and was the lone survivor in the E ring at the crash site, Birdwell told KWTX.
Birdwell was awarded a Purple Heart in 2004 and spent the 13 years after that running a non-profit organization to support critical burn survivors.
In a June 2010 special election, Birdwell was elected to the Texas State Senate. He has been re-elected three times since.
Sources: The Texas Senate, KWTX
Sarah Rudder had her leg amputated and later competed in the Invictus Games
Rudder, who was in the US Marines, was at the Pentagon on September 11, awaiting her promotion ceremony. She was unscathed in the attack and was able to help others get to safety.
She returned to the Pentagon two days later to assist in removing victims' remains and, during this effort, got her ankle trapped and crushed beneath a concrete barrier.
After several reconstructive surgeries, her leg was eventually amputated in 2014.
In 2016, Rudder competed in the international Invictus Games for wounded and injured servicemen and women. The 9/11 survivor won six medals.
Source: Tampa Bay Times
Will Jimeno was buried under 30 feet of rubble
After seeing the first plane crash into the North Tower, Jimeno — a rookie officer with the Port Authority Police Department — rushed to the World Trade Center with 20 other officers.
Shortly after he arrived, the South Tower collapsed, and Jimeno was trapped under 30 feet of debris. He was one of two officers to be pulled out of the rubble alive but spent weeks in the ICU undergoing 13 surgeries.
Source: CBSN New York
John McLoughlin tried to send a radio message for Jimeno's pregnant wife
McLoughlin, a sergeant with the Port Authority police, was trapped with Jimeno under the rubble. He tried to use his radio to send a final message to the rookie officer's heavily pregnant wife, asking that she fulfill Jimeno's wish that they name their unborn child Olivia.
McLoughlin survived being buried underground for 22 hours. After being placed in a medically induced coma for six weeks, he returned to Ground Zero four months later to witness the removal of "the final column" at Ground Zero.
Source: CBS News
Smart News | September 9, 2021
Free Online Resources About 9/11
Browse 12 archives, databases and portals that help users deepen their understanding of the attacks
Twenty years after September 11, 2001, the first generation that grew up in a world profoundly altered by the attacks is coming of age.
Many of these young adults have little or no memory of the day itself. As the Pew Research Center reports, just 42 percent of 25-year-old Americans clearly remember where they were when they learned of the attacks. But for those who do remember, the horror of 9/11 remains fresh.
On that day, more than 2,977 people were killed in New York, Arlington and Pennsylvania. Thousands sustained physical injuries, and thousands more continue to reckon with trauma inflicted by the tragedy. Post- 9/11 wars , including those in Afghanistan and Iraq, have killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions more. The profound changes wrought by September 11, including the U.S. military response and the attacks’ impact on American art and culture , continue to be felt to this day.
Individuals hoping to learn more about this multifaceted history may find it difficult to know where to start. To support this search, Smithsonian has compiled a list of 12 free resources that deepen readers’ understanding of the September 11 attacks and their complicated, painful legacy. From the Library of Congress to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, these archives, databases and web platforms help researchers and members of the public alike make sense of one of the most defining events of the 21st century.
National September 11 Memorial and Museum
Every year, millions of people visit Ground Zero to see the two square reflecting pools installed where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) once stood. The museum affiliated with this memorial offers a bevy of digital resources , including explanatory exhibitions about the history of the WTC and the search for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden . Librarians and educators can register to download a free poster exhibition about the attacks for classroom use.
Online viewers can also peruse the museum’s collection of more than 70,000 artifacts, including material evidence such as a pair of shoes worn by a survivor of the towers’ collapse. Those interested in hearing firsthand accounts of the day can listen to an edited selection from the museum’s ever-expanding collection of more than 1,000 oral histories.
September 11 Digital Archive
A project of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, this free online archive holds more than 150,000 files related to 9/11. Users can browse over 40,000 first-person accounts; scroll through some 15,000 images; or peruse emails, documents, sound clips, videos and other digital ephemera.
The Library of Congress
Within hours of the attacks, Library of Congress (LOC) staff began collecting original materials linked to the day. Online users can search the library’s digital collections to find photographs, poetry, art, maps and eyewitness accounts of 9/11, many of which were featured in a 2002 exhibition at the Washington, D.C. institution.
The library’s 9/11 web archive preserves slices of the early internet as it appeared in the weeks and months following the attacks. Offerings include memorial websites, the front pages of major magazines like the New Yorker , political and religious websites, and the home page of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee .
On the day after the attacks, the LOC’s American Folklife Center started collecting oral history interviews with survivors and people across the country. “This collection captures the voices of a diverse ethnic, socioeconomic, and political cross-section of America during trying times and serves as a historical and cultural resource for future generations,” the library notes. Listeners can hear more than 150 of the audio recordings here .
National Museum of American History
Shortly after September 11, Congress designated the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH) as the official repository for all objects related to the attacks. Curators cast a wide net, searching for items that explained the immediate impact of the violence and illuminated rescue and recovery efforts.
Today, viewers can explore the collection online. Items of note include the cellphone that then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani used to coordinate emergency efforts on the day of the attacks and a clock from the Pentagon whose hands froze when the plane hit the building.
NMAH also holds a turban that once belonged to Balbir Singh Sodhi , an Indian immigrant who owned a gas station in Mesa, Arizona. Four days after the attacks, a gunman killed Sodhi in a drive-by shooting. The killer had assumed that Sodhi was Muslim because of his turban; in reality, he was a follower of the Sikh faith. His murder marked the first in a wave of post-9/11 hate crimes against Muslim, South Asian, Arab and Middle Eastern communities in the U.S.
Brooklyn-based nonprofit StoryCorps preserves short oral histories—some accompanied by animations—from September 11 survivors and victims’ families. Viewers can peruse the multimedia stories and read transcripts of interviews on the organization’s website. Listings include an interview with Sodhi’s brothers, Rana and Harjit Sodhi .
American Archive of Public Broadcasting
The September 11 attacks consumed news cycles across the country on the day of the event and for weeks afterward. Through the 9/11 Special Coverage Collection at the American Archive of Public Broadcasting , members of the public can comb through hours of footage from 68 local and national television and radio stations.
Featured clips include a “PBS NewsHour” segment that aired on the evening of 9/11 and a September 12 “ New York Voices ” episode that found hosts Bill Moyer and Bill Baker interviewing religious leaders, callers and frontline workers as they began to process the attacks.
The Costs of War Project
More than 50 scholars, human rights practitioners and other experts contribute to Brown University’s Costs of War project, which documents the enormous human and monetary cost of the U.S.-led, post-9/11 military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as related violence in Pakistan and Syria. Readers can explore academic papers, data and classroom resources for free on the program’s website . All told, the team estimates that these conflicts have killed more than 929,000 people and displaced more than 38 million across the world.
Pew Research Center
To mark the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Hannah Hartig and Carroll Doherty of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center compiled a comprehensive, user-friendly overview of data about 9/11. Readers can access the resource here . Topics covered include trends in public opinion over the past two decades: For instance, though Americans overwhelmingly supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at their outset, 69 percent now say that the U.S. mostly failed to achieve its goals in Afghanistan.
Othering and Belonging Institute’s Islamophobia Project
Researchers with UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute maintain a searchable database of anti-Muslim legislation introduced and enacted in the past decade, as well as major shifts in anti-Muslim sentiment that took place in the U.S. in the wake of 9/11. Online users can use the site more broadly to learn about the history of Islamophobia and find additional reading resources on the subject.
National Archives and Records Administration
In late 2002, Congress and President George W. Bush created the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, otherwise known as the 9/11 Commission , to research the events of September 11. Investigators conducted more than 1,200 fact-finding interviews. Executive summaries of some of these interviews have been declassified and can be located in the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) digital catalog .
The commission’s full report, which is preserved by NARA and can be read in full here , chronicled the events of the day as accurately as possible and provided recommendations to prevent future attacks.
U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Within three years of the attacks, the United States had launched wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The military also opened Guantanamo Bay detention camp, a U.S. military prison in Cuba, as part of a series of aggressive anti-terrorism military operations.
In 2014, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released an investigative report detailing the CIA’s use of torture and other human rights abuses inflicted on prisoners at Guantanamo and elsewhere during the so-called “War on Terror.” Though the full document remains classified, members of the public can read the committee’s executive summary, findings and conclusions online .
The New York Times
On the tenth anniversary of the attacks, the New York Times created an expansive hub for educators seeking to explain 9/11 and its impact on the world to students. Free resources include lesson plans, activities and readings that address complex subjects such as the war in Afghanistan and racism against Muslim Americans.
A separate anniversary collection designed for adult readers is available online, too. Highlights include more than 2,500 “ impressionistic sketches ” of lives lost, an interactive reconstruction of the World Trade Center as it stood prior to the attacks and a feature article on Muslim Americans who came of age in the decade following 9/11.
The Washington Post
In 2019, a protracted legal battle mounted by the Washington Post successfully secured the release of a series of interviews with high-ranking officials about the war in Afghanistan. Reporter Craig Whitlock published the Post ’s first survey of the papers in an article titled “ At War With the Truth ”; the story was later turned into a book .
As Whitlock reported, the documents “reveal[ed] that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.” Readers can explore the Post ’s reporting, feedback from the public and interviewees, timelines of the war, and more than 2,000 pages of documents online.
Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.
Nora McGreevy | | READ MORE
Nora McGreevy is a former daily correspondent for Smithsonian . She is also a freelance journalist based in Chicago whose work has appeared in Wired , Washingtonian , the Boston Globe , South Bend Tribune , the New York Times and more.
Trending Post : Books Made Into Movies
11 Important Kids’ Books About 9/11
This post may contain affiliate links.
Are you looking for 9/11 books for elementary and middle school kids and students?
Twenty years after 9/11, the tragic terrorist attack in New York and Washington D.C., there is an entire generation of kids who weren’t alive– and perhaps don’t know what happened.
It feels strange to think that September 11, 2001, is now history, and the children’s books about it are historical fiction , not realistic fiction . (That means I’m getting old, I think!)
Since it’s vital that our past inform our present, the best way to do that is to start with books…good children’s books about how the events of 9/11 impacted the lives of ordinary kids all over the world, but especially in the New York area.
I’ve tried to indicate which books are better for sensitive readers and which are more disturbing — but you’ll need to use your own judgment as you know your children and students best. It is not okay to traumatize kids in an attempt to teach them about what happened. It is right to consider developmental appropriateness as well as compassion for individuals who may have a lower tolerance (for any reason) of violence.
Here are picture books and middle grade books that you can share with children about what happened on September 11.
9/11 Books for Elementary & Middle School Kids
For those of you looking for 9/11 YA books for Teens , check out these 9/11 titles:
- The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner
- All We Have Left by Wendy Mills
- The Red Bandanna by Tom Rinaldi
- Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan
- We All Fall Down by Eric Walters
- The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard
The Best Historical Fiction Books
Nonfiction Book Lists for All Ages
Melissa Taylor, MA, is the creator of Imagination Soup. She's a mother, former teacher & literacy trainer, and freelance education writer. She writes Imagination Soup and freelances for publications online and in print, including Penguin Random House's Brightly website, USA Today Health, Adobe Education, Colorado Parent, and Parenting. She is passionate about matching kids with books that they'll love.
33 Favorite New Picture Books, March 2023
Helping kids be bucket fillers
Write a Family Newsletter
New Picture Books, January and February 2020
Best Multiplication Apps for Kids to Learn and Practice At Home
Graphic Novels Teachers Should Take Seriously (& Use in the Classroom)
Leave a reply cancel reply.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
13 Essential Stories About Sept. 11
A n anniversary likes a round number, but 9/11 doesn’t always give us that. It’s the same awkwardness that Jeffrey Kluger described in the pages of TIME’s Sept. 17, 2007, issue: “A sixth anniversary is an awkward thing, without the raw feeling of a first or the numerical tidiness of a fifth or 10th,” he wrote. “The families of the 2,973 people murdered that day need no calendrical gimmick to feel their loss, but a nation of 300 million — rightly or wrongly — is another matter.”
Here are 13 essential stories on Sept. 11 from TIME’s archives, originally compiled for the event’s 13th anniversary.
If You Want to Humble an Empire . Sept. 14, 2001.
TIME’s editors had just a few days to pull together the entirety of the Sept. 14, 2001, issue. Much of that work fell to Nancy Gibbs, then a senior editor and now the magazine’s editor, who wrote a story that filled nearly every page. The piece is a recounting of what happened that morning, not only to the President and the hijackers, but also to those who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and those who went there later, to help.
The full text of this article is now available free of charge in TIME’s archives. Click here to read it.
Mourning in America . Sept. 24, 2001.
By Sept. 24, 2001, there had been some time — not much, but some — to understand the scale of the day. The “One Nation, Indivisible” issue of TIME brims with the images that are most often remembered when thinking back to that day: President Bush, the missing posters, the flags. But there are also the moment-of memories that, for most of us, have likely faded to gray. The 1-800 numbers to call for information about helping; the 1-800 numbers to call if you were the one who needed the help. Once again, Nancy Gibbs wrote the issue’s cover story, a look at the national mood as the new reality set in:
In a week when everything seemed to happen for the first time ever, the candle became a weapon of war. Our enemies had turned the most familiar objects against us, turned shaving kits into holsters and airplanes into missiles and soccer coaches and newlyweds into involuntary suicide bombers. So while it was up to the President and his generals to plot the response, for the rest of us who are not soldiers and have no cruise missiles, we had candles, and we lit them on Friday night in an act of mourning, and an act of war.That is because we are fighting not one enemy but two: one unseen, the other inside. Terror on this scale is meant to wreck the way we live our lives–make us flinch when a siren sounds, jump when a door slams and think twice before deciding whether we really have to take a plane. If we falter, they win, even if they never plant another bomb. So after the early helplessness—What can I do? I’ve already given blood—people started to realize that what they could do was exactly, as precisely as possible, whatever they would have done if all this hadn’t happened.
We’re Under Attack. Dec. 31, 2001.
As part of the 2001 Person of the Year issue honoring New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, TIME put together an extensive oral history of Sept. 11:
GIULIANI: I go up to [Fire Chief Peter]Ganci and I say, “What should I communicate to people?” He says, “Tell them to get in the stairways. Tell them our guys are on the way up.” And then he looks at me and says, “I think we can save everybody below the fire.” What he is telling me is, they’re gone. Everybody above the fire is gone. He says people are not panicking. They’re moving fast. I grab his hand, shake it and say, “Good luck. God bless you.”
A Miracle’s Cost. Sept. 9, 2002.
On the first anniversary of the attacks, TIME looked at the lives of 11 people who had been deeply affected by 9/11. Though others are more famous, from the President to the head of the Victim Compensation Fund, Genelle Guzman-McMillan’s story is equally worth remembering. John Cloud profiled the last person to be found alive in the rubble of the Twin Towers, a Port Authority employee, and finds that survival is far from simple:
“For Judy,” says Gail [LaFortune], using her cousin’s middle name, as do those who grew up with Genelle in Trinidad, “there’s a sense of…of misplaced things, of misplaced parts of her life.” If that’s true, how does Genelle Guzman-McMillan find herself again? It turns out there is no shortage of people who want to help create a carefree, well-centered version of Genelle—and an inspirational Sept. 11 tale for the rest of us: Victim miraculously lives, turns to God, finds true love (in July, she and longtime boyfriend Roger McMillan had a free “dream wedding” arranged by Bride’s magazine and CBS’s The Early Show , an event both then covered as news). But her story isn’t so simple. People say Sept. 11 was a crucible for our nation, which may or may not be true, but it was doubtlessly a crucible for the person you see in the pictures on this page. The question is, Who emerged from that crucible? Why did the last survivor survive?
The World According to Michael. July 12, 2004.
As the post-Sept. 11 mood of national unity began to show cracks in the years after the attacks, perhaps no one better exemplified that change than divisive documentarian Michael Moore, whose film Fahrenheit 9/11 remains the top-grossing documentary in movie history. Richard Corliss profiled the filmmaker for a cover story shortly after it hit that milestone:
“Was it all just a dream?” Michael Moore poses that question at the start of Fahrenheit 9/11 , his docu-tragicomedy about the Bush Administration’s actions before and after Sept. 11, 2001. Moore’s tone isn’t wistful; it’s angry. He’s steamed about the Florida vote wrangle of 2000, the Supreme Court decision to declare George W. Bush President of the United States, the policies of Bush’s advisers and especially what he sees as the deflection of a quick, vigorous search-and-destroy mission against Osama bin Laden into an open-ended war on terrorism—”You can’t declare war on a noun,” Moore said last week—that spawned a dubious and costly invasion of Iraq.
Halting the Next 9/11 , Aug. 2, 2004
Romesh Ratnesar parsed the 567-page 9/11 commission report and found it meticulous — but questioned whether the knowledge it contains can possibly make a difference:
In the long run, making America and its allies safe again will require far broader changes than even the 9/11 panel was empowered to propose. In the meantime, the U.S. has little choice but to brace itself for the possibility of another strike. “We do not believe,” the commissioners write in the report’s conclusion, “that it is possible to defeat all terrorist attacks against Americans, every time and everywhere.” In that sense, the 9/11 commission’s legacy may ultimately be determined by how long the U.S. can deter the inevitable.
The Class of 9/11. May 30, 2005.
Kristen Beyer came to West Point because she was recruited for swimming, but mere weeks had passed before it became clear that the service she had signed up to give after graduation would not be in a peacetime army. Nancy Gibbs and Nathan Thornburgh profiled Beyer and two of her classmates on the eve of their graduations:
Cadet after cadet spoke up. Terrorists attacked us, they said. If you were on the fence even in the slightest, if you weren’t 100% sure you wanted to be in this fight, you shouldn’t be here at all. Beyer didn’t know those cadets or whether they knew her or whether they saw her as a laid-back swimmer type without a soldier’s steel. Still, their comments cut straight through her and destroyed the frail truce she had made with West Point. “I just shut up,” she says. “But I was so angry. ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ I asked myself. The attitude was, If you didn’t grow up just dying to be in the military, you’re worthless.” It was the beginning of Beyer’s darkest time at West Point. “Every day I just hated myself for staying. I hated everybody else.” Everyone except her teammates and Huntington, whom she had talked into staying with her. “We got much closer. I could use her as a shoulder to cry on, and she could use me the same way,” Beyer says. Ultimately, she decided that the Army wasn’t going to change. She had to.
The Day That Changed… Very Little. Aug. 7, 2006
Much of the media narrative after 9/11 was about how pop culture was going to become more sincere and more serious. Then a few more years went by, and James Poniewozik wrote about how those predictions turned out to be false:
Still, saying that 9/11 has entered pop culture is not the same thing as saying that 9/11 has changed pop culture. The disaster movie, the docudrama, the inspirational war story–those are not exactly innovations. There were predictions just after the attacks that pop culture would become more patriotic or more nostalgic or more introspective. Instead, it has just become more of what it was before–violent, irreverent, licentious and so on. 24 is a great show, but you can trace its ice-blooded do-what-you-gotta-do-ism back to Dirty Harry , not Donald Rumsfeld. It’s hard to see how any post-9/11 movie has hit on the nobility, banality and absurdity of war in a way Saving Private Ryan didn’t. On Three Moons Over Milford , a new comedy-drama on ABC Family, ordinary people change their lives after the moon breaks into three pieces, threatening Earth. But it’s a series on a modestly rated cable channel. Five years after 9/11, rethinking your priorities in the face of mortality is now niche programming.
Why the 9/11 Conspiracies Won’t Go Away . Sept. 11, 2006.
On the fifth anniversary, Lev Grossman investigated why so many people want to believe that the rest of us are missing something about what happened on Sept. 11:
There are psychological explanations for why conspiracy theories are so seductive. Academics who study them argue that they meet a basic human need: to have the magnitude of any given effect be balanced by the magnitude of the cause behind it. A world in which tiny causes can have huge consequences feels scary and unreliable. Therefore a grand disaster like Sept. 11 needs a grand conspiracy behind it. “We tend to associate major events–a President or princess dying–with major causes,” says Patrick Leman, a lecturer in psychology at Royal Holloway University of London, who has conducted studies on conspiracy belief. “If we think big events like a President being assassinated can happen at the hands of a minor individual, that points to the unpredictability and randomness of life and unsettles us.” In that sense, the idea that there is a malevolent controlling force orchestrating global events is, in a perverse way, comforting.
Death Comes for the Terrorist. May 20, 2011
David Von Drehle reported on the killing of Osama bin Laden, from President Bush’s 2001 uttering of the words “dead or alive” to President Obama’s finding himself in the Situation Room:
Osama bin Laden, elusive emir of the al-Qaeda terrorist network, the man who said yes to the 9/11 attacks, the taunting voice and daunting catalyst of thousands of political murders on four continents, was dead. The U.S. had finally found the long-sought needle in a huge and dangerous haystack. Through 15 of the most divisive years of modern American politics, the hunt for bin Laden was one of the few steadily shared endeavors. President Bill Clinton sent a shower of Tomahawk missiles down on bin Laden’s suspected hiding place in 1998 after al-Qaeda bombed two U.S. embassies in Africa. President George W. Bush dispatched troops to Afghanistan in 2001 after al-Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon. Each time, bin Laden escaped, evaporating into the lawless Afghan borderlands where no spy, drone or satellite could find him. Meanwhile, the slender Saudi changed our lives in ways large and small, touched off a moral reckoning over the use of torture and introduced us to the 3-oz. (90 ml) toothpaste tube.
Portraits of Resilience . Sept. 19, 2011
Ten years after 9/11, TIME featured interviews with 40 people who led, who helped, who survived. The website that accompanied the print project won an Emmy award in 2013; it can be found online at http://content.time.com/time/beyond911
The One World Trade Center panorama. March 6, 2014.
As One World Trade Center neared completion, Josh Sanburn wrote about the new building, a dozen years in the making :
But the long wait was also the result of a nearly impossible mandate: One World Trade Center needed to be a public response to 9/11 while providing valuable commercial real estate for its private owners, to be open to its neighbors yet safe for its occupants. It needed to acknowledge the tragedy from which it was born while serving as a triumphant affirmation of the nation’s resilience in the face of it. “It was meant to be all things to all people,” says Christopher Ward, who helped manage the rebuilding as executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “It was going to answer every question that it raised. Was it an answer to the terrorists? Was the market back? Was New York going to be strong? That’s what was really holding up progress.”
Remains of the Day . May 26, 2014
When the 9/11 museum opened this spring, Richard Lacayo looked at the way it preserves the past and serves the future:
The completion of the museum is an important moment in the imperfect reclamation of Ground Zero, a place where years ago grief swept the table and which is slowly coming back to life. You could say that every visitor will now be a kind of recovery worker, returning the site to normality simply by being there, helping in a small way to take back that haunted space.
For more, visit TIME’s September 11 topic page.
- The Struggle to Save Lives Inside Gaza’s Hospitals
- The 100 Must-Read Books of 2023
- Sheikh Hasina and the Future of Democracy in Bangladesh
- What Fuels Max Verstappen’s Formula One Success
- The Founder of Uniqlo Has a Wake-Up Call for Japan
- How to Set Boundaries With Relatives
- The Oversexualization of Trans Bodies : Column
- Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time
Write to Lily Rothman at [email protected] .
US House passes spending bill to avert government shutdown
WASHINGTON, Nov 14 (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a temporary spending bill that would avert a government shutdown, with broad support from lawmakers in both parties.
The legislation, which would extend government funding through mid-January, now heads to the Senate, where Democratic and Republican leaders have voiced support.
To prevent a shutdown, the Senate and Republican-controlled House must enact legislation that President Joe Biden can sign into law before current funding for federal agencies expires at midnight on Friday.
The 336-95 vote was a victory for House Speaker Mike Johnson, who faced down opposition from some of his fellow Republicans, in the first consequential vote of his tenure.
Johnson was elected to the post less than three weeks ago, following weeks of tumult that left the chamber without a leader. With a slim 221-213 majority, he can afford to lose no more than three Republican votes on legislation that Democrats oppose.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said in a statement on Tuesday night after the vote that he was pleased the bill passed "with a strong bipartisan vote," adding that he would work with his Senate Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, to pass it "as soon as possible."
The stopgap spending bill would extend government funding at current levels into 2024, giving lawmakers more time to craft the detailed spending bills that cover everything from the military to scientific research.
Some Republicans on the party's right flank said they were frustrated that it did not include the steep spending cuts and border-security measures they sought.
[1/5] The dome of the U.S. Capitol building is seen on a rainy day as the deadline to avert a government shutdown approaches in Washington, U.S., September 26, 2023. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights
The bill passed with 209 Democratic and 127 Republican votes, while 93 Republicans and two Democrats voted against it.
Johnson's predecessor as speaker, Kevin McCarthy, was ousted by a handful of Republicans after a similar vote in September that relied on Democratic votes to avert a shutdown.
But hardline conservatives said they were not turning against Johnson. "We don't support it. But we do support him," said Representative Bob Good.
Other Republicans said it was better than other options.
"This isn't ideal," Republican Representative Mike Garcia said. "But a shutdown is a far worse world to be in."
Johnson's bill would extend funding for military construction, veterans benefits, transportation, housing, urban development, agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and energy and water programs through Jan. 19. Funding for all other federal operations - including defense - would expire on Feb. 2.
Congress is in its third fiscal standoff this year, following a months-long spring impasse over the more-than-$31 trillion in U.S. debt, which brought the federal government to the brink of default.
The ongoing partisan gridlock led Moody's on Friday to lower its credit rating outlook on the U.S. to "negative" from "stable," as it noted that high interest rates would continue to drive borrowing costs higher.
Reporting by David Morgan; Additional reporting by Moira Warburton, Richard Cowan, Katharine Jackson and Susan Heavey; Editing by Andy Sullivan, Scott Malone, David Gregorio and Lisa Shumaker
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Demonstrators in Washington back Israel, denounce antisemitism
China's Xi in US for high-stakes Biden summit, APEC
Republican lawmaker accuses ousted US House speaker of throwing elbow
White House says it has evidence Hamas using Al Shifa hospital to run military actions
More from Reuters
Sacked minister Braverman attacks UK's Sunak as failing and weak
Sacked British minister Suella Braverman launched a blistering attack on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Tuesday, accusing him of betraying both her and the country.
Gaza official warns of possible Israeli raid on Al Shifa hospital
Australia confident China will lift all trade blocks next month
Man arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after UK ice hockey player death
San Francisco patches over homelessness, drug-abuse for APEC
- Skip to main content
- Keyboard shortcuts for audio player
An Alabama mayor ended his life after a website showed pictures of him cross-dressing
As mayor, F.L. "Bubba" Copeland spurred the designation of a historical site, and the creation of an outdoor community center and a public works department. He also led the city through the pandemic. The city of Smiths Station hide caption
As mayor, F.L. "Bubba" Copeland spurred the designation of a historical site, and the creation of an outdoor community center and a public works department. He also led the city through the pandemic.
F.L. "Bubba" Copeland wore many hats in the small city of Smiths Station in east Alabama. He was the mayor, a pastor and the owner of a local grocery store. He was also a husband and father.
But in the days before Copeland took his life, the 49-year-old was revealed to have another identity — this time, of a man who liked to dress up as a woman and write erotic fiction.
On Wednesday, 1819 News, a website previously owned by the conservative Alabama Policy Institute, wrote that Copeland used a string of social media accounts under a pseudonym. The outlet also included several photos of Copeland in women's clothing and makeup that the site said were posted under the accounts.
Two days later, Copeland killed himself, the Lee County Sheriff's Office said.
If you or someone you know may have thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org.
A funeral service for Copeland is scheduled for Thursday.
It's impossible to know all the factors that led to Copeland's suicide. But his death puts a spotlight on media ethics and when, if ever, it's appropriate to publish stories on people's private lives.
1819 News published a series of articles on Copeland
The social media accounts belonging to Copeland described a transgender woman in the process of medically transitioning, 1819 News said. But Copeland told the outlet he was not actually doing so. He added that his wife knew of his private hobby, 1819 News said.
Copeland told his congregation on Wednesday at a weekly prayer service that he was under an "internet attack." He admitted to taking photos of himself in women's clothing, but added that "a lot of things that were said were taken out of context."
"The article is not who or what I am," he said, according to a recording of the service. "I apologize for any embarrassment caused by my private or personal life that has come publicly."
Two days later and hours before Copeland's death, the outlet released another article, focused on fictional stories and social media posts it says were produced under Copeland's pseudonym.
Cross-Dressing Academy Helps Put Men In Touch With 'Femmeselves'
1819 News alleged that Copeland had used the names and photos of real community members in these posts without their consent. The article emphasized one fictional narrative about a trans woman's infatuation with a local business owner that turned deadly. 1819 News said that the business owner character was inspired by a real-life person and business familiar to Copeland.
1819 News did not respond to NPR's request for comment. On Friday, the outlet reported on Copeland's death and expressed its condolences.
"Our prayers are with the residents of Smiths Station, the parishioners of First Baptist Church of Phenix City and Copeland's family," the outlet wrote.
Publicly outing a person's private life can be harmful
Gary Hicks, a communications professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, has studied the history and consequences of outings, or when the media exposes a person's sexual orientation, gender identity or other private details of their personal life without the person's permission.
The act of wearing clothes associated with another gender is not synonymous with being gay, lesbian or transgender. But like with many practices that challenge typical gender norms, outing a person's interest in cross-dressing without their consent can be extremely harmful, Hicks said.
"I cannot find a good reason to out a person in a story," he said. "You do not know what the ramifications are going to be."
Hicks pointed out that some news organizations have justified outing elected officials if they actively denounce or vote against gay rights. NPR was not able to find any evidence that Copeland held such views.
Historically, people who do not conform to gender norms have been accused of being deceptive or secretive. But Hicks said decisions related to a person's gender or sexual orientation are deeply personal and it can take a long time for a person to fully understand themselves.
"The decision to come out in any way belongs to the individual and not a news organization or anyone else," he said.
Copeland led his city during a period of immense growth and grief
Mayor Bubba Copeland visits an area that was damaged by a tornado on March 5, 2019 in Smiths Station, Ala. Alex Wong/Getty Images hide caption
Mayor Bubba Copeland visits an area that was damaged by a tornado on March 5, 2019 in Smiths Station, Ala.
Copeland was born in Columbus, Ga., but lived in Smiths Station, Ala., for most of his life. He attended Smiths Station High School and later, Auburn University, where he earned a degree in hotel and restaurant management. He went on to own and operate a grocery store.
His political career began in 2008 as a school board member for Lee County. In 2016, he became the second person ever to be mayor of Smiths Station.
During his time in office, Copeland was devoted to the city's growth and development. He spurred the designation of a historical site , and the creation of an outdoor community center and a public works department. He also championed a million-dollar road improvement project to address traffic congestion. And he guided the city through unprecedented challenges, including a deadly outbreak of tornadoes in 2019 and the COVID pandemic.
Amid all his mayoral duties, Copeland also served as a senior pastor at First Baptist Church in nearby Phenix City.
Copeland's community reacts with grief, confusion and anger
On Sunday, the First Baptist Church of Phenix City kept its service short for congregants to mourn together the loss of their senior pastor. Before that began, church member David White shared a few words.
"I cannot tell you that I fully understand or can explain the scope of his tragedy," he said, according to a recording. "There are some things I do know are absolutely true. I know that my friend Bubba Copeland loved this church and its people."
Later that day, his church published an online obituary .
"He helped guide the City through a period of tremendous growth and development, and earn its place as one of the fastest growing Cities in the State of Alabama," it read. "Beyond serving his church, city, and community, Bubba loved spending time with his family and serving his community."
The Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, of which Copeland's church was a part, said it was grieving with the Phenix City First Baptist Church.
"We hold all those who mourn Bubba Copeland in the light and love of Christ as they await the promised comfort of God," wrote coordinator Lucas Dorion.
In a statement , Lee County Democrats said Copeland had a heart for service, adding that Copeland provided "countless people with hope and support" during the pandemic and 2019 tornadoes.
"Mayor Copeland was the backbone of Smiths Station," the group wrote on Friday.
Former Alabama Sen. Doug Jones said he was heartbroken by the loss of Copeland, who he described as a friend, a "good man and great mayor." Jones also directly condemned 1819 News.
"It is sad and disgusting how he was treated by the @1819News for personal decisions however misguided they might have been," Jones wrote on X .
The former superintendent of Phenix City schools, Larry DiChiara, said he was enraged by how Copeland was treated in the days before his death.
"I just want to ask you people who thought it humorous to publicly ridicule him, 'Are you happy now?' What crime did he commit? Some of you people make me sick," DiChiara said in a social media post.
Clarification Nov. 7, 2023
An earlier version of this story said 1819 News was affiliated with the Alabama Policy Institute. The website was previously a fully owned subsidiary but was launched as a separate organization in 2023, according to 1819 News.
No. 18 MSU's second-half comeback falls short to No. 9 Duke
Chicago — No. 18 Michigan State only had itself to blame for Tuesday's 74-65 loss to No. 9 Duke at the Champions Classic.
Michigan State men’s basketball might as well have taken a page out of the football team’s playbook. The Spartans beat themselves Tuesday, with Duke making twice as many free throws as Michigan State attempted.
The Blue Devils shot 24-of-30 from the charity stripe, while the Spartans went 7-of-12.That was the difference Tuesday.
It spoiled the second-half heroics of Malik Hall and Tyson Walker. Walker scored 18 of his team-high 22 points in the second half and Hall added 13 but the Spartans attempted comeback fell short, and they have only themselves to blame.
Michigan State went on an 8-0 run out of the timeout midway through the second half. Walker hit a 3-pointer from the corner, then Coen Carr threw down a monstrous rim-rattled dunk that spurred the crowd onto its feet.
Moments later, it was Walker again, knocking it down another shot from deep.
Just like that, Michigan State had life.
Duke’s once double-figure lead dwindled to only three and second-year coach Jon Scheyer called a timeout with 8:25 left in the game.
The Spartans would come within three twice more but that was the closest they would get.
Each time the Spartans managed to trim down the lead, Duke found a way to build it back up again.
Michigan State didn’t do itself any favors, allowing Duke 18 more trips to the free throw line than the Spartans garnered.
Duke gave Michigan State many opportunities to get ahead in a sloppy first half showing. The Blue Devils turned the ball over 10 times in the opening 20 minutes and their miscues prevented them from finding any offensive rhythm.
Meanwhile, the Spartans were generating good looks — they attempted 11 more shots in the first half than Duke — but the shots weren’t falling. Michigan State went 9-for-31 from the field and2-13 from 3-point range in the first half.
The Spartans also got into foul trouble and sent Duke to the free throw line 12 more times than them in the first half.
At the half, Michigan State trailed 31-20.
But after scoring just 20 points on 31 shots in the first half, the Spartans hit the ground running in the second half.
Hall led the charge initially. He scored eight points during an explosive 11-5 run out of the break that was capped off by a put-back basket from Jaden Akins that put Michigan State within four.
Duke called a timeout to regroup. As the Blue Devils’ headed to the bench, A.J. Hoggard skipped down the court and encouraged the green-and-white-clad fans to get loud.
The momentum switched between the two teams the rest of the way but the Blue Devils found a way to put the game away.
Michigan State’s 3-point shooting was a major improvement from the first two games. After going 2-for-31 through the first two games, the Spartans went 6-for-19 from beyond the arc. That’s more like it for a Michigan State that looks nearly identical to last season’s team who shot a collective 39.3% from deep, the third-best mark in college basketball.
Tuesday was the first time Tom Izzo has coached against Duke and didn’t see coach Mike Krzyzewski down the sideline. But Duke still has the upperhand over Michigan State, who is now 3-14 against the Blue Devils under Izzo.
Michigan State is 5-7 all-time in the Champions Classic.
Izzo always plays the long games with his team, gradually building the Spartans from the ground up so they peak in March. There’s no need to panic, despite the 1-2 loss.
Michigan State returns home and will host Butler Friday at Breslin Center.
No Harbaugh, no problem. How Penn State football fell short again against Michigan
STATE COLLEGE — Penn State football was only down by five, early in the third quarter.
And yet it still felt like the Nitany Lions were desperately trying to create offense and rally to stay on even terms with the undefeated Michigan Wolverines Saturday in Beaver Stadium.
Penn State relied too much, you could argue, on running its 5-star quarterback with the big arm and grand passing possibilities.
More: RB Kaytron Allen breaks out as Penn State football hangs with Michigan in first half
Drew Allar took off for the seventh time, this one on third-and-2.
He was hit — after picking up the first down — and fumbled the ball away.
The ever-opportunistic Wolverines — even without suspended head coach Jim Harbaugh — fell on the ball and began another grounding, pounding offensive drive, with a short field to work with, at that.
No. 10 (CFP) Penn State would be close again in the biggest kind of game ... only to fail in key moments, once more, losing 24-15 to the third-ranked Wolverines.
A fumbled first down.
A missed tackle on third down.
Your All-America cornerback being juked out by their All-America quarterback?
Penn State hung around, at home, only to lose in a painful, slow-bleed defeat.
Here's three things we learned from Michigan's win over Penn State:
Penn State defense can't handle Michigan strength
Wolverines' QB J.J. McCarthy is one of the most efficient, skilled passers in the nation.
And he really didn't have to throw the ball downfield against Penn State.
Didn't really have to throw the ball hardly at all.
Penn State's highly-valued defense knew what was coming for the second-straight year against Michigan. And though it fared better Saturday in Beaver Stadium, it really couldn't stop the run again.
Not nearly enough.
Not when it mattered.
Not on 33-straight plays to end the game.
Michigan built a 17-9 lead late in the third quarter with McCarthy only throwing eight passes, completing seven.
Just eight passes in three quarters.
Instead, star tailback Blake Corum ran 15 times for 80 yards and a touchdown. Backup Donovan Edwards ran eight times for 48 and another TD. And McCarthy had a few of the biggest, most important runs — twice eluding Penn State defenders on key third-down plays.
The Lions were certainly more gap-accountable, as coaches say, in defending the run, overall. But when the Wolverines needed big yards, they got it. Almost every time.
Even with the Lions expecting it.
You can't beat this team like that.
Penn State tight ends, MIA
Penn State's most reliable receivers are its tight ends — Tyler Warren, Theo Johnson and, in the red zone, third-stringer Khalil Dinkins.
And they were nearly a non-factor Saturday. Where were they to take heat off QB Drew Allar and help the Lions gain some synchronicity and momentum in the pass game?
LBU to the rescue? 'You felt his presence on the field.' Penn State football linebackers are key vs. Michigan
They combined for three catches on four targets through three quarters for just 27 yards.
Otherwise, Allar struggled to find receivers behind scrimmage. He needed his biggest-bodied targets more than ever, especially in the middle of the field.
There simply didn't appear to be a strong effort to even make that work.
Elite athletes need game-changing plays
Penn State has its top collection of speed and talent under James Franklin.
But it's crop of potential All-Americans continues to lack big-play ability in the biggest moments. Is that on the coaching staff at this point?
From cornerback Kalen King to linebacker Abdul Carter and Chop Robinson on defense to receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith to the tight ends to Nick Singleton on offense.
Biggest PSU crowds: The top 6 Beaver Stadium crowds: Can Penn State football vs. Michigan top 111,000?
The defense played tough again — like at Ohio State — without creating any turnovers or game-changing plays.
The offense, meanwhile, looked lost trying to do much of anything beyond inside runs by the tailbacks.
King, for example, missed tackling a scrambling McCarthy on a key third down play then got hit with pass interference in the fourth quarter. Carter had no tackles behind scrimmage. The running backs were not involved in the pass game and couldn't get anything going beyond a lone Kaytron Allen 34-yard run in the first half.
Penn State lost both of its most meaningful games this season because its best players, on the whole, were not in position to make the biggest plays.
Frank Bodani covers Penn State football for the York Daily Record and USA Today Network. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, @YDRPennState.
Opinion In Qatar, secret diplomacy on Gaza yields a first small step forward
DOHA, Qatar — A first step toward easing the horrific war in Gaza emerged Thursday in an ornate, white-domed palace here, where Qatar’s prime minister hosted the spy chiefs of the United States and Israel. Hours later, the White House announced a daily four-hour pause in the fighting to allow humanitarian relief — with hopes of a hostage exchange to come.
It was a moment that brought a glimmer of hope after agonizing secret diplomacy that has taken place over a month of fighting — a process in which the tiny, energy-rich emirate of Qatar has played an outsize role. The meeting here brought CIA Director William J. Burns and Mossad chief David Barnea together with Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani, who acted as a mediator with Hamas political leaders based in his country.
The prime minister explained his role in the complex, evolving negotiations in a lengthy interview Wednesday in the same palace where the intelligence chiefs gathered the next day. “This is a positive first step that we hope to build upon in the coming days,” he said. “We’re hopeful that it can lead to something longer and more sustainable.”
Thursday’s breakthrough was the agreement on regular humanitarian pauses to relieve the terrible suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza — a partial response to demands around the world for a cease-fire. Israeli accounts of the deal focused on clearing the way for Palestinian evacuations to southern Gaza, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must have realized that if he didn’t make some concession, he risked losing Israel’s recent diplomatic gains with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as the blank check he’s had from the United States to conduct the war against Hamas.
What might come next is a deal for Hamas to release more than 100 foreign civilian hostages and all the Israeli women and children kidnapped Oct. 7, in exchange for freedom of more than 100 Palestinian children and women said to be held in Israeli prisons. The hostage-release negotiations are said to be stalled on an Israeli demand that Hamas release the captives in Gaza first.
The hostage situation is more complicated than has previously been reported, according to Qatari and U.S. officials. Some of the captives might be held by factions other than Hamas, and locating them in the maze of caves under Gaza and moving them to freedom could require a pause in fighting of at least three days, perhaps longer, knowledgeable Qatari officials say.
Mohammed, who also serves as foreign minister, has had the delicate job of mediating the bitter conflict. It might seem an unlikely role: Qatar is often criticized by Israel’s supporters for hosting Hamas leaders and allowing favorable media commentary on the terrorist group. But the Qatari prime minister’s comments to me, supplemented by conversations with other senior Qatari and U.S. officials, make clear that the reality is far more complicated — and that the Qatar channel to Hamas has been essential for Americans and Israelis alike.
Qatar is a Persian Gulf paradox. It shelters Hamas leaders, regarded by the United States and Israel as terrorists, just as it hosted the Taliban. But it’s also strongly pro-American in its foreign policy, providing a home for the giant air base at al-Udeid, which serves as the forward operating base of U.S. Central Command. It made a bet decades ago to exploit its vast natural gas reserves, which has created fantastic wealth for the emirate. But it has used some of this money to draw American universities and other schools to Qatar in a modern educational system that’s fully open to women.
As for Hamas, the simple truth is that without Qatar as an intermediary, the United States and Israel would have no good channel to negotiate the release of hostages or anything else involving the terrorist group. For this reason, chiefs of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, have visited Doha regularly for more than a decade. Although disparaged by some, Qatar appears to have been, in the words of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “ a reliable partner in peacemaking .”
Qatar’s critics cite its initial pro-Hamas statement on Oct. 7: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs holds Israel solely responsible for the ongoing escalation due to its ongoing violations of the rights of the Palestinian people.” The Middle East Media Research Institute and other pro-Israel groups point to that outrageous initial comment as evidence that Qatar supports terrorism. Qatari officials say they soon realized that this first statement, made before full details of Hamas’s brutality became clear, was wrong and changed it.
The prime minister was explicit. The violence against Israeli civilians on Oct. 7 was “horrific,” he told me. “Nobody could justify it.”
From the second day of the conflict, Qatar began using its channel with Hamas political leaders to try to free hostages. One problem was that Hamas claimed it had seized only Israeli soldiers, and that other groups, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and an informal militia known as the “shabiha,” had grabbed the rest.
“Hamas has repeated their narrative from Day One, saying, ‘We didn’t take any civilians. Our mission was to take the soldiers for a prisoner exchange,’” said a senior Qatari official who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. He described the situation on Oct. 7 as “a mess,” with “thousands of people jumping the fence and kidnapping people.”
Qatar’s prime minister cautioned that he couldn’t assess Hamas’s claim that other groups had captured the civilians: “To be an objective mediator, my principle through this entire event has been that I will not believe any words from anyone until I see things in front of me.”
In the first few days, it wasn’t apparent that Israel wanted hostage negotiations with Hamas. Israel had suffered 1,400 deaths on Oct. 7, and the hostages were additional victims of that shocking attack. Israel seemed more concerned with the security of the state itself than of any individual. But as pressure from hostage families and the Biden administration increased, Israel supported the indirect hostage talks.
A test of whether the Qatar-Hamas channel could deliver results came on Oct. 20 with the release of two Americans , Judith Raanan and her daughter Natalie. A six-hour cease-fire was agreed to, allowing them to travel to the International Committee of the Red Cross. But a Hamas demand that Israel not monitor the transfer led to delays when Hamas spotted surveillance drones and insisted on their removal.
The stage seemed set for a larger release of hostages on Oct. 25. But two days later, Israel began its ground invasion of Gaza, and Hamas withdrew the deal. The increasing death and destruction caused by Israeli bombing also hardened Hamas’s position.
“The mass destruction that’s happening every day, this is a changing factor on the ground. The demands of yesterday might not be applicable today,” Mohammed said.
Communications have become increasingly difficult. At the outset, the Qatari prime minister could contact Hamas political leaders in Doha, who would then call military leaders in Gaza on cellphones. But Hamas claimed that Israeli bombing had destroyed two cell-communication nodes, making regular calls impossible. The situation worsened when Israel briefly cut all communications channels.
“The answer, which used to take us two to three hours, now takes 12 to 48 hours,” the unnamed Qatari official explained. The communications delay further complicated the hostage-release deal, which had 10 to 15 items dealing with timing and transfer arrangements.
The larger problem, beyond hostage release, is how the war will end and who will govern Gaza “the day after.” Qatar’s prime minister is not optimistic.
“The ideal scenario is to have one government taking care of both Gaza and the West Bank. There would need to be a transition from here to there. But I’m not sure the countries in the region are going to be willing to participate in something like that after the destruction and killing,” he explained.
This transition process might be eased by the Palestinian Authority saying it would be willing to play a role in post-Hamas governance in Gaza if the United States makes a renewed commitment to a two-state solution.
Mohammed said he has pressed his Israeli contacts: “We’ve been telling them that we need to move away from the hostility. We believe that by solving the hostages issue we’ll be able to help in moving toward realistic solutions to bring an end to the war.”
The Gaza hostage negotiations are the latest instance in which the United States and Israel have turned to Qatar for help, U.S. and Qatari officials said. Qatar agreed to host Hamas in 2012, with U.S. and Israeli blessing, when Hamas left Syria after the civil war there began.
When Israel and the United States asked Qatar in 2017 to expel five Hamas members who were planning an attack on Israel, Qatar did so, several Qatari officials said. Israel and Qatar had similar cooperative liaison about Gaza in the years before this latest war. In 2017, when the Gazan economy was crumbling because of a lack of power and jobs, Qatar provided financial support, in coordination with Israel and the United States. Doha began sending $25 million to $30 million a month to pay for fuel supplies, aid to poor families and salaries for Gazan civil servants.
“That was directly coordinated with Israel. … They knew where each dollar was going,” the unnamed Qatari official explains. He added that Qatar warned the Israelis “that we are not willing to continue if there is no prospect for a long-term deal that will ensure a better life in Gaza” — but was asked to continue the temporary program a little longer.
A Qatari official said that on Sept. 28, 10 days before the latest war began, Israel and Qatar again discussed a long-term solution for Gaza. Israeli officials wanted to test Hamas’s reliability for three months by offering more jobs in Israel — and told Qatari officials they would discuss the question of subsidy payments later.
Later never came. Instead, Hamas launched its bloody terrorist attack, and Israel retaliated with an assault that, by Hamas’s accounts, has killed more than 10,000 civilians.
The Qatari prime minister said he will keep working with his Israeli contacts. “We believe in stability. We believe in peace. We believe that the strongest factor for both Israeli and Palestinian safety and stability is to have a peaceful resolution of this conflict.”
But he said he fears that if the current Gaza war ends like previous ones, Israel and the region will face an even worse conflict a few years from now.
- Opinion | Countless kids are colorblind — and don’t know about it. Here’s how to help. November 7, 2023 Opinion | Countless kids are colorblind — and don’t know about it. Here’s how to help. November 7, 2023
- Opinion | Hey, Joe Manchin! There’s no ‘middle’ in a right-wing GOP. November 12, 2023 Opinion | Hey, Joe Manchin! There’s no ‘middle’ in a right-wing GOP. November 12, 2023
- Opinion | The military’s secret weapon is ... humor November 10, 2023 Opinion | The military’s secret weapon is ... humor November 10, 2023
‘young sheldon’ to end with season 7 on cbs; series finale date set, ‘wednesday’ moving production to ireland as season 2 eyes spring start.
By Nellie Andreeva
More Stories By Nellie
- New NBC Comedy ‘Extended Family’ Re-Starts Production, Kicking Off Scripted TV’s Post-Strike Comeback
- HBO’s ‘The White Lotus’ Eyes February Start Of Production As Casting On Season 3 Begins
EXCLUSIVE : Netflix ‘s reigning most popular series, Wednesday , is headed to a new locale. The upcoming second season of the Addams Family offshoot will be filmed in Ireland, sources tell Deadline. Details are still being firmed up, but I hear start of production is tentatively slated for late April.
TV Actors Getting Back To Work After SAG-AFTRA Strike As Series Start Setting Return To Production Dates
2023-24 Episode Count & Production Start Plans Tweaked For Series Like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘CSI: Vegas’ & Wolf Entertainment Dramas As Strike Goes On
Still, the Balkan location presented logistical challenges, with speculation starting soon after production had wrapped that, if the series would go to a second season, it might film elsewhere. Wednesday , which was renewed in January , hails from MGM Television, whose sibling Amazon Studios has recent experience with relocating a sprawling genre series after Season 1 with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which moved from New Zealand to the UK .
RELATED: ‘Wednesday’ Cast Tease Additional Addams Family Member Joining In Season 2 — Tudum
There is little information about where Wednesday , from Smallville creators Al Gough and Miles Millar and executive producer/director Tim Burton, would go thematically in Season 2. Gough and Millar have hinted that we might see more Addams family members and explore further Wednesday’s relationship with her mother while Ortega, who is becoming a producer for Season 2, has indicated that the show would have stronger emphasize on horror over teen romance.
There is no cast confirmation yet but the studio has extended the options on the main Season 1 actors while scripts are being written, I hear. Getting Wednesday Season 2 up and running has been a priority for Netflix post-strikes.
RELATED: Danny Elfman Tells ‘Wednesday’ Creators About His “Eye-Opening” Introduction To TV Scoring & Why Tim Burton Remains A “Mystery” To Him After Nearly Four Decades Of Collaboration – The Process
Wednesday Season 1 sits atop Netflix’s Top 10 list for most popular English-language series with 252M views, almost double the views for its nearest competitor.
Must Read Stories
Phoenix, kirby, scott & more on paris world premiere red carpet; read the review.
C.S. Lee Cast As Iconic ‘Karate Kid’ Character For Season 6 Of Netflix Series
A look at clarence thomas’ journey from malcolm x fan to high court conservative.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.
Read More About:
Deadline is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 Deadline Hollywood, LLC. All Rights Reserved.