From Bill Bennett:
On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, nineteen al-Qaeda terrorists, mostly from Saudi Arabia, hijacked four commercial jetliners and turned them into flying bombs.
Two of the hijacked planes slammed into the 110-story twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Americans watched their TV screens in horror as the two skyscrapers, among the tallest in the world, collapsed. Another plane hit the Pentagon, and the fourth jet crashed in rural Pennsylvania.
Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks, including more than 400 firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical services workers who had rushed to the World Trade Center to help survivors before the buildings
Among the day’s heroes were passengers on board United Flight 93, which had left Newark International Airport for San Francisco but changed course toward Washington, D.C., after four terrorists seized control. Passengers who began making frantic calls on their cell phones learned that other airliners had been hijacked and crashed in suicide missions. Realizing their captors must be headed toward a high-profile target, a group of Flight 93 passengers resolved to stop them.
Moments later, Flight 93 went down in rural southwestern Pennsylvania. All aboard were killed. The hijackers’ target was probably the U.S. Capitol building or the White House.
Congress and the president have designated September 11 as Patriot Day. The flag should be flown at half-staff, and Americans are asked to observe a moment of silence to honor the innocent victims who perished during the worst acts of terrorism ever carried out against the United States.
Sadly, what Americans now face is the challenge of having forgotten the lessons of 9/11.
We’ve allowed the threat of hatred and terrorism to rise and strike again and again. In Fort Hood, in Boston, in Times Square, in the air over Miami three months after the attacks, and over Detroit on Christmas Day eight years later. The threat has grown in numerous homes, where “honor” is defended violently, and has turned on ourselves in our airports where agents of the government now view citizens with suspicion and hostility. In Benghazi, it took the lives of an American Ambassador and members of his staff. A cursory look at a list of terrorist attacks since 1970 is shocking and sickening, not only in the depravity and inhumanity shown by such purveyors of violence, but by the seeming inability of the world to grasp the significance of the events.
We must remember always that the lessons of 9/11 are broader than merely the events of that day, and extend into daily American life. Until that happens we will never fully understand what we were supposed to learn.