Nineteen years ago today, 19 terrorists boarded four jetliners, took control of the aircraft, and crashed the planes into the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and into the two main World Trade Center towers in New York City, causing thousands of deaths and changing American history.
Passengers fought to retake control of the fourth jetliner and the terrorists crashed it into rural Pennsylvania rather than be defeated by the courageous passengers. The passengers’ actions saved hundreds of lives on the ground in Washington.
2,750 Americans died in New York, including more than 400 firefighters and policemen attempting to rescue the thousands of people trapped in the Twin Towers before they collapsed. 184 Americans died in the Pentagon, and 40 died in Pennsylvania.
The World Trade Centers would burn for weeks. The toxic mix of ash, dust and insulation would prove deadly to people at Ground Zero. More than 18,000 of the first responders and people working at or near the site developed a rare 9/11 related health cancer.
More than 125,000 people have joined the World Trade Center Health Program. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3,946 members of the World Trade Center Health Program have died including 20 who have died from COVID-19.
It is not known if the 9/11 health issues made them more susceptible to a bad outcome from COVID-19.
The terrorists were members of Al-Qaeda, which was being sheltered by the extremist Taliban government in Afghanistan. The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan as a result of the terror attacks. The global war on terror soon expanded to dozens of other countries.
The U.S. invaded Iraq in a bid to overthrow Saddam Hussein and prevent terrorists from getting weapons of mass destruction. The Iraqi government collapsed quickly, but the war became a rallying cry for terrorists and Islamist extremists eager to fight the U.S. as well as native militias that sprang up in the power vacuum.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq retreated into Syria, reformed into ISIS and re-invaded Iraq after the U.S. left the country, precipitating a follow-up war with the terror group.
Over 2,401 U.S. military members died in the War in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops are still deployed assisting the Afghan government. 4,550 members of the American armed forces died in Iraq. 15 civilian DOD employees were killed In Iraq and six in Afghanistan.
Additionally, 3,793 employees of U.S. contractors were killed in Iraq and 3,937 in Afghanistan. U.S. allies lost 323 troops in Iraq and 1,141 in Afghanistan. At least 41,726 Iraq natives allied with the U.S in armies, militias and police have been killed as well.
58,596 Afghans fighting in common cause with the U.S. have also been killed. An estimated 200,000 Iraqi civilians have died as well as 38,000 Afghan civilians. In excess of 120,000 enemy combatants have been killed. Surviving the war has also been hard on U.S. veterans, and an estimated 80,000 have died by suicide.
“On that day, not only did the world change, but we all changed,” said President Donald Trump. “Our eyes were opened to the depths of the evil we face. But in that hour of darkness, we also came together with renewed purpose. Our differences never looked so small, our common bonds never felt so strong.”