It has been 17 years since the 9/11 attacks on America in New York and Washington D.C. The heroes of the aftermath in those two cities deserve today’s recognition and honor. Moreover, lest we forget the heroes of Flight 93 who perished foiling a third attack in the wilds of Pennsylvania, they will be honored today as well.
It is vitally important that Americans should pause and reflect on the terror of 9/11/2001. As the years distance us from the event the importance of remembrance only grows larger.
The reason for this is simple. There is now an entire generation in high school around the nation for whom 9/11 is a story told to them and not part of their collective memory.
It is also well to remember another 9/11 which will live in infamy. It is 9/11/2012, the date of the attack on an American outpost in Benghazi, Libya.
Here are parts of the timeline of events which took place on September 11, 2001. It began, like today, on a Tuesday morning.
On a clear, sunny late summer day in September 2001, Al Qaeda terrorists aboard three hijacked passenger planes carried out coordinated suicide attacks against the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., killing everyone on board the planes and nearly 3,000 people on the ground. A fourth plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field, killing all on board, after passengers and crew attempted to wrest control from the hijackers. Below is a chronology of the events of 9/11 as they unfolded. All times are Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).
• 7:59 am – American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 with 92 people aboard, takes off from Boston’s Logan International Airport en route to Los Angeles.
• 8:14 am – United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 767 with 65 people aboard, takes off from Boston; it is also headed to Los Angeles.
• 8:19 am – Flight attendants aboard Flight 11 alert ground personnel that the plane has been hijacked; American Airlines notifies the FBI.
• 8:20 am – American Airlines Flight 77 takes off from Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C. The Boeing 757 is headed to Los Angeles with 64 people aboard.
• 8:41 am – United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 with 44 people aboard, takes off from Newark International Airport en route to San Francisco. It had been scheduled to depart at 8:00 am, around the time of the other hijacked flights.
• 8:46 am – Mohammed Atta and the other hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 11 crash the plane into floors 93-99 of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, killing everyone on board and hundreds inside the building.
• 8:50 am – White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card alerts President George W. Bush that a plane has hit the World Trade Center; the president is visiting an elementary school in Sarasota, Florida at the time.
• 9:03 am – Hijackers crash United Airlines Flight 175 into floors 75-85 of the WTC’s South Tower, killing everyone on board and hundreds inside the building
• 9:08 am – The FAA bans all takeoffs of flights going to New York City or through the airspace around the city.
• 9:21 am – The Port Authority closes all bridges and tunnels in the New York City area.
• 9:31 am – Speaking from Florida, President Bush calls the events in New York City an “apparent terrorist attack on our country.”
• 9:37 am – Hijackers aboard Flight 77 crash the plane into the western façade of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., killing 59 aboard the plane and 125 military and civilian personnel inside the building.
• 9:42 am – For the first time in history, the FAA grounds all flights over or bound for the continental United States. Some 3,300 commercial flights and 1,200 private planes are guided to airports in Canada and the United States over the next two-and-a-half hours.
• 9:45 am – Amid escalating rumors of other attacks, the White House and U.S. Capitol building are evacuated (along with numerous other high-profile buildings, landmarks and public spaces).
• 9:59 am – The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses.
• 10:07 am – After passengers and crew members aboard the hijacked Flight 93 contact friends and family and learn about the attacks in New York and Washington, they mount an attempt to retake the plane. In response, hijackers deliberately crash the plane into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, killing all 40 passengers and crew aboard.
• 10:28 am – The World Trade Center’s North Tower collapses, 102 minutes after being struck by Flight 11.
The remainder of that horrific day was spent in rescue and recovery efforts as well as a massive evacuation effort under New York Mayor Rudy Gulianni. In the days and weeks to come, we would just begin to learn how large a cost was paid in lives taken and devastated.
Almost 3,000 people were killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which triggered major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism and defined the presidency of George W. Bush
America would also soon learn the identity of her foe. The Islamic terrorist organization Al Queda claimed credit for the attack.
The attack was celebrated by sympathetic Muslims in the Middle East. Some of those went beyond mere celebration 11 years later to the day in Benghazi, Libya.
The terrible assault on the American embassy in Benghazi began in the late afternoon of September 11, 2012. The result was the loss of four American lives including Ambassador Christopher Stevens along with paramilitary defenders Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods.
This was a much different scenario than in 2001. The specific enemy was a different Islamic terror group but with the same designs of killing Americans. The list of Americans killed was far smaller but tinged with equal grief nonetheless.
It was a pre-planned attack which lasted for 13 hours, longer than the 102 minutes duration of 9/11/2001.
A motion picture released in 2016 titled “13 Hours, The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” gives a thorough and accurate account of that heated battle. I highly recommend the movie, though it contains graphic war violence and should be viewed with discretion.
However, the most glaring differences between the 2001 and 2012 attacks were the response to and the explanation of them. The response to 9/11/2001 was to call it a terrorist attack that same day and prepare a military response against the enemy.
Whether that response was too little, too much or adequate is debatable. However, in 2012 there was no debate about the situation to those viewing it as it unfolded in real time. The response and explanation for those attacks are a totally different story.
The following video was made in 2014 during the now infamous Benghazi Congressional hearings featuring then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I will save comment on those hearings for another time.
However, this provides excellent and crucial information concerning the events and aftermath of 9/11/2012 in Benghazi. It contains some graphic images from the battlefield and viewer discretion is advised.
As seen in the video, a rapid response to this attack could have saved many lives, perhaps all four of the Americans who were killed. The requests for security were ignored prior to the assault and requests for help were denied during the battle.
The deception used to explain Benghazi was deliberate and repeated by President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other high-level personnel in the administration. The purpose of the lies is not known.
In fact, to this day neither Obama or Clinton will admit they lied. When being grilled about this during the Benghazi hearings, Mrs. Clinton angrily made her “What difference does it make?” declaration.
That does not relieve any American of the need to remember and continue to learn about Benghazi, even as we do each year to memorialize the first 9/11. Learning from historic events like these are paramount today more than ever.
He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. Ezekiel 33:5 [ESV]
Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
Featured and Top Image courtesy of Cliff’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of foortography’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Cliff’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of BBC World Service’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
All other sources linked or cited in the text