Today is the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a day which, for better or for worse, changed America forever. Amid the devastation, the anger, and the shock was the opposite of those emotions: hope, compassion, and community.
Here are eight quotes from the day and the aftermath.
“Let’s Roll” — Todd Beamer
Todd Beamer was on board United Airlines Flight 93, which was taken over by terrorists. Of the four planes that were hijacked that day, three hit their targets. UA93, however, did not. That’s because the passengers, led by Beamer, weren’t going to let that happen. Instead, they sacrificed their lives by wresting control of the plane from the hijackers and deliberately crashing the aircraft into the ground before the hijackers could reach their target.
As passengers called their loved ones on their cellphones to say goodbye, one voice could be heard above the din, as The Guardian reports. It was Beamer telling the passengers who were planning to take over the plane that it was time to act. It was the last words he was ever recorded saying.
“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.” — Sandy Dahl
Also on board United Flight 93 was Jason Dahl, the pilot of the aircraft. Dahl and his co-pilot died after their throats were slit by the hijackers before Beamer and his crew took over the aircraft.
“The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” — George W. Bush
It’s come to be known as Bush 43’s “Bullhorn Moment,” as U.S. News & World Report writer Kenneth T. Walsh calls it. Standing among the ruins of the World Trade Center and surrounding buildings, Bush was addressing the crowd. Someone shouted “We can’t hear you!” Bush’s reply made history.
“I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon,” he said.
“One of the worst days in America’s history saw some of the bravest acts in Americans’ history. We’ll always honor the heroes of 9/11. And here at this hallowed place, we pledge that we will #NeverForget their sacrifice.”
– George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States. pic.twitter.com/k80oePnzWt
— Fort Bend District Clerk's Office (@FBDistrictClerk) September 11, 2019
“The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom.” — Rudy Giuliani
New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was in the waning days of his administration when the events that would change his city forever took place. Giuliani received almost-universal praise for his dignified leadership during the aftermath of the attacks.
“All you can do is try to live your best life from day to day and move forward with gratitude.” — Brian Clark
Thousands of people were inside the two towers of the World Trade Center at the time of the attack. Thousands didn’t make it out, but thousands more did. One of those was Brian Clark. As Newsweek explains, he chose not to wrestle with why he survived and others didn’t. All he could do was focus on the now.
“Where were you when the world stopped turning, on that September day?” — Alan Jackson
September 11, 2001, also had a profound effect on popular culture. Country music star Alan Jackson, then at the top of his career, penned a heartfelt response to the tragedy that, unlike some other country songs, wasn’t jingoistic and militaristic.
“It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.” — Senator John Kerry
Through our anger and tears, Americans also did something that we’re known for doing: we came together as one. Standing in line to donate blood, sending money, volunteering to help in whatever ways, large and small, that we could.
“It’s the nature of the world that most people have moved on, but the people directly involved with 9/11, for them, twice a day it’s 9/11.” — Robert Reeg, former FDNY firefighter
It’s been 18 years, and for most of us, the date of September 11, 2001, has become little more than something that happened, a date shuffled into our memories, like anniversaries or birthdays. But as Reeg points out, for the people that were there in the thick of it, there is no forgetting the events of that day.
To see some photos of the attacks of September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and their aftermath, check out this Inquisitr report.