This Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil in history… The September 11th attacks.
Those old enough to remember that fateful day will never forget the feelings that rushed through us when we first learned of the horrific news and the overwhelming surge of helplessness that permeated through the air.
Yet, as easy as it is to fall into despair on the anniversary of such a tragic event, it’s important to remember, despite the sorrow, there’s also ways to look at this day with feelings of hope and optimism.
In remembrance, today we take a look back at this historic day and reflect on the stories that came off of those planes and out of those buildings… Stories of sorrow, yes, but heroism as well.
Today we remember 9/11.
The Early Hours of That Fateful Day
One of the first things that people remember about September 11th, 2001, when they look back is what a beautiful day it was… Skies were clear across the entire country and things were quiet…
Little did we know, as people were waking up, eating breakfast and heading out the door for yet another day at the office, a group of hijackers coming out of airports in New Jersey, Washington D.C. and Boston were in the final stages of a plan years in the making to let their hate for Western culture known in the most destructive and horrific way possible.
Though suspicious activities had begun to sound off alarm bells for air traffic control officers along the Northeastern coast of the United States shortly after 8am that morning, it was another 46 minutes later before the rest of the world became aware that their lives were about to change forever.
At 8:46am, a noticeable rumble in the sky began to make itself known over New York City as a low flying plane (American Airlines flight 11 out of Boston) made its way towards lower Manhattan and crashed into the North face of Tower 1 of the World Trade Center.
It didn’t take long for firefighters, medics and police across the city began making their way towards the towers and eventually into the towers themselves. While those individuals worked to get into the towers, thousands of civilians working below the impact zone were struggling to make their way out! Down hundreds of flights of stairs and away from the carnage in the sky.
While early reports of the incident claimed that a small plane and a horrible accident were the cause of the massive explosion, many of those keeping track of the missing and unresponsive planes across the Eastern seaboard felt the coincidence was just too great.
At approximately 9:03am, their suspicions were confirmed as United Airlines Flight 175 out of Boston came barreling towards the towers up the river, eventually making impact with the south face of Tower 2.
Any hopes of an accident were laid to rest at that moment as America, without any further doubt, realized it was under attack.
The whole world was focused on lower Manhattan and just when things seemed as though they couldn’t get any worse, more breaking news came through that Flight 77 out of D.C. had just struck the western side of the Pentagon outside of D.C. The airliner had adjusted its course towards Los Angeles over southern Ohio and made its way back towards Washington with a clear target in mind.
As the chaos continued to spread across the entire east coast of the United States, split-second decisions were made across the entire country – including the evacuation of the Sears Tower in Chicago — as nobody knew what could come next.
While reports of yet another hijacked plane (United Airlines 93 out of Newark, NJ) were spreading on the ground officials were working to react to an event that nobody was prepared for.
The hijacking of United 93 would not be officially reported, however, until mere moments after the plane was to crash land in a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
At approximately 9:59am, a mere 56 minutes after the impact of Flight 175, the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, taking hundreds of civilians with it.
At approximately 10:28, 1 hour and 42 minutes after the impact of Flight 11, the North Tower of the World Trade center collapsed, leaving a path of death and destruction just as the first had.
In a mere two and a half hours after the first plane left Boston that morning, the Twin Towers of lower Manhattan lay in ruins and America’s path was forever changed.
The World Reacts
It didn’t take long for the World to react to the chaos of that day and as U.S. air space remained closed and inbound overseas flights were deterred to the likes of Newfoundland and Canada, among others, Wall Street, in a state of panic themselves being based mere blocks from Ground Zero, shut down trading, not to reopen again until September 17th the following week.
With U.S. markets shut down for almost a week, markets took a sharp plunge, causing a $1.4 trillion total loss in market value. In the first week of trading after the attacks, the S&P alone fell more than 14% and the DOW fell 684 points!
One noticeable impact even for those not in the markets was the sudden rise of oil and gas prices as fears began to emerge that a Middle Eastern conflict would lead to a shortage of these vital commodities.
Obviously, the industry that was most impacted by the attacks were the airlines as fear began to take hold and flights across the nation were grounded.
On Wall Street that day, journalist Maria Baritromo recently shared with Fox Business her memories of that unforgettable day. “On that fateful day, I was on the floor of the NYSE when we lost 2,977 of our friends, family and first responders. When the first plane hit the first tower, I was on my feet outside the NYSE on the corner of Broadway and Wall Street – a few blocks away from the carnage where I and a group of others witnessed the second plane hit the south tower. And then soon after, the entire south tower collapsed in an explosive sound as black smoke spiraled and debris and cement went flying, we all ran for our lives when the building came down and the air turned pitch black.”
Maria explained, however, that on the day of September 17th, as the opening bell was set to ring again, she saw hope as she watched from the floor of the NYSE as the country’s leaders told the world that, yes, we were in mourning and we were hurting, but we were not out and, from the debris, America would rise again.
Through Chaos we Find Hope
The event itself cannot be described with any word but “horrific.” The terrorists had succeeded better than they had hoped as, not only did they manage to crash into two of the tallest buildings in the world, which also happened to be a symbol of American economic health, but the jet fuel leaking out of the plane caused the fires within to be so heated that the metal structure of the towers themselves could not sustain their own weight and, therefore, collapsed in on themselves…
Yes, those few hours were among the worst America (and the World) has ever seen. Yet, within that time, hundreds of stories of bravery and optimism shone through, showing the true nature of humanity and what, when the cards are down, a person is willing to do for not just themselves, but their neighbor.
Stories of firefighters and police officers that were willing to – and often did – give up their own lives to help a person in need.
Stories of civilians within the impact zone working to get out and helping office rivals to safety as the troubles of daily life began to seem unimportant.
… And let’s not forget the stories of heroism off of the planes themselves! Had the passengers of United 93 not stood up against the hijackers onboard, the plane would have more than likely been successful in making its way into the United States Capitol in D.C.
The plan was to take out America’s economic, military, and governing power within a matter of hours. Had a group of civilians not made a stand, to the terrorists, the mission would have been a complete success. Instead, through the darkness, American pride and resilience shone through, proving that you may be able to knock America down, but you will never knock America out!
20 Years Later
A lot of things have changed in the World over the past 20 years. And as the Middle Eastern conflict finally comes to an end, echoes of 9/11 still reverberate through the minds of every American who lived through that fateful day.
Yet, our early optimism proved to be true… Out of the rubble, America did rise and, though that day will never be forgotten, life did move on.
… And though today’s struggles seem to come in the form of plagues rather than planes, the American spirit survives, spreading the word across the globe that, just as before, we shall overcome.
Learn More Here…
If you’d like to learn more about today’s markets and tomorrow’s profits, we encourage you to sit down for the latest episode of Ask the Pros below where host Celeste Lindman discusses the topics, you’ll need to know heading out of this trading week and into the next.
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