Never forget: 20 years later

Honoring the anniversary of 9/11



Tiles of America honor 9/11 victims in NYC.

Channing Hill, Santa Fe Staff Writer

Reflecting on 9/11

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, shook the nation to its very core as almost 3,000 people perished in New York City, Shanksville, and Washington DC on one pivotal day. This September 11 marked the 20 year anniversary of the strike against America, making it a day to remember as US citizens reflected on the loss. 

The buildings targeted 20 years ago were the World Trade Center site and the Pentagon, along with the US Capital. However, the passengers on the plane headed toward the Capital were able to take control of the plane before the terrorists could destroy anything. Those passengers gave their lives by crashing the plane into a field just outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania before any harm could befall their nation’s capital. 

According to CNN, in New York City, 2,753 people were killed when two hijacked flights were flown into the World Trade Centers: 343 were New York City firefighters, 23 were New York City police officers, and 37 were officers at the Port Authority. The victims ranged from 2-85 years of age, and about 75% of those victims were men. 

The plane headed for the Pentagon hit its mark at 9:37 a.m., killing 184 people in the building and all 64 people on the plane, according to the US Department of Defense

Christine McDaniel, a math teacher at Santa Fe High School, shared her memories of the attack as a seventh-grade teacher in an interview.  She said that she would never forget where she was or what she was doing when she heard the fateful news. 

“I was called to the office for a phone call, and then everyone was crying in the office watching the news,” McDaniel said. “…we didn’t talk about it because they didn’t want us to say anything to the kids about what was going on.” 

Nationwide Changes

Because of the attack, the Department of Homeland Security was created, merging 22 governmental agencies into one collective agency. National security, largely airport security, was increased considerably in order to prevent another tragedy such as 9/11 from happening ever again. 

“…on the airplanes now how the doors are locked,” McDaniel said “Before you used to be able to see the pilots flying the planes but now you can’t.” 

In the midst of all the chaos on and after 9/11, America banded together as a symbol of camaraderie. It was a way of showing how even though the nation had suffered a loss, they would not break under the stress; that they would come back stronger than ever and wouldn’t allow another terrorist attack like 9/11 to happen again. 

Losing Its Meaning

Since the attack happened so long ago, many people, especially those of the younger generations, aren’t as aware of the true impact 9/11 had on their country. Megan Crump, a sophomore at Santa Fe, agrees that the story of 9/11 is getting lost. 

“I feel like it’s lost some of its weight,” said Crump. “We do it every year, and we go over it every year, and it’s the same thing and so I think we’ve been desensitized to it.”

A graph provided by the Pew Research Center shows that the memory of 9/11 is an impactful one, but only to those who were alive to witness it. It is entirely possible that younger generations, especially children, aren’t being exposed to everything that happened that day; as demonstrated above, even a student feels that she is only going over the same things every year. 

Unity Today

The terrorist attack did bring unity to the United States for a brief time as the nation recovered from the blow, but whether or not that unity is still present remains uncertain. The Pew Research Center says that in October of 2001, 60% of adults expressed trust in the government; however, in April of 2021, only 24% of adults said that they trusted the government. 

It is common knowledge that because of the attack, America waged war against Afghanistan. This action was greatly supported by 77% of Americans, most of which continued to support the deployment of troops for several years. Opposingly, in June of 2009, 38% of Americans said that U.S. troops should be removed from Afghanistan as soon as possible.

Today, after all American troops have been formally removed from Afghanistan, 54% of adults say removing troops was the right decision, and 42% say it was the wrong decision. 

These statistics show that even 20 years later American citizens are having to deal with the aftereffects of 9/11 and that they may not be as united as they once were. 

20 Years Later

Although the attack against the nation happened 20 years ago, Americans all over the country continue to mourn those who perished on 9/11. But, from the attack, Americans were able to rise up and stand tall together to help one another through the hard times, as well as improve the safety of the United States. However, these positive developments in no way make up for the lives lost on that fateful day, all of which are kept alive through the American spirit.