Reflection at the World Trade Center Sight, Eleven years later
September 11, 2012 – (Louisville, KY): Today marks 11 years since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 which destroyed The World Trade Center Towers and part of the Pentagon. The United States was rattled by the terrorist attacks.
Over 3,000 people from all walks of life and all faiths lost their lives innocently on September 11, 2001, including everyone on the hijacked jets, individuals trapped in the World Trade Center, as well as those hit in the Pentagon, and emergency first responders. The losses at the New York Fire Department were significant.
- 8:46am – American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 widebody from Boston-Logan smashed into World Trade Center 1 at 466 mph into the north face. It was recorded the aircraft hit the North Tower between floors 93 and 99.
- 9:03am – United Airlines Flight 175, also a Boeing 767 widebody which departed Boston-Logan, crashed into World Trade Center 2 at 590 mph between floors 77 and 86.
Both flights were bound for Los Angeles (LAX) and their impact, combined with a hot, jet fueled fire, caused the towers to fall.
We must not forget the two other aircraft hijacked by terrorists this day, American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757-200, from Washington-Dulles. This plane crashed into the west side of the Pentagon at 530 mph.
The last flight unaccounted for was United 93, also a Boeing 757-200, which had departed Newark Airport. As this airliner continued on a track towards Washington, D.C., passengers on United 93 heard of the previous hijackings and fought back against the terrorists.
With much of Washington, D.C. evacuated, the flight eventually crashed at 10:03am. The passengers and crew heroically overwhelmed the hijackers – the flight impacted a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Air Traffic across the United States came to a halt immediately after the attacks. There were many days of mourning and it took several days for flights to take to the skies again, with new, strict security procedures in place.
9 | 11 Personal Reflections
As a Continental Airlines frequent flyer in the early to mid 90’s, I often used Continental’s hub (now owned by United) at Newark International Airport (EWR). I frequently flew via the Newark hub to gain additional Continental OnePass Miles, to fly on larger, more comfortable wide-body planes, and finally to see the beautiful skyline of Manhattan and the majestic twin-towers of the World Trade Center.
The primary runways at Newark, 4R/22L and 4L/22R, provide a great view of Manhattan if you’re sitting on the “right” side of the aircraft. I’d always go out of my way to select a window seat with a view of Manhattan depending on the direction air traffic was flowing.
Not only did I see the towers from the skyline with each trip via Newark, but I’d made many trips into the city. On one, I recall going to one of the towers and looking up. Another trip to the towers brought me to a restaurant, “Windows of the World” at the top of one of the towers.
Each time I fly via Newark (renamed Newark Liberty International (EWR)) and look over at the Manhattan Skyline, it feels like something is missing as I look towards the financial district of southern Manhattan. I know the towers are gone, but each time I look at the skyline, somewhere in the back of my mind is a sense of disbelief to this very day.
Just after the 10 year anniversary I had the opportunity to visit the 9|11 memorial.
We had to acquire tickets ahead of our visit for entrance to the memorial. To enter the sacred grounds, I had to proceed through an airport-like security checkpoint. In my opinion, we need to get over with this “security for anything” atmosphere and continue with life, but I’ll save that for another time.
The property is nicely laid out with two reflecting pools which sit at the footsteps where World Trade Center 1 and World Trade Center 2 both stood. The grounds were designed with a park-like atmosphere in mind with a variety of trees including one tree of significance, a very special tree, “The Tree of Life” (pictured below):
The tree of life was the only tree to survive the terrorist attacks at The World Trade Center and was nursed back to health.
The park is well kept and open to all, but tickets are likely to be required for some time to come. The serenity of the park provided me with a chance to think about what actually happened that day and quietly mourn on what felt to be sacred land.
This is the second of the two World Trade Center Pools and if you look closely, you’ll see rainbows with the blowing water. As I stood there, it felt like the rainbows had a special meaning, perhaps a sign from above.
Behind the pool are the lower levels of the new World Trade Center Freedom Tower which will span 1776 feet upon completion.
For better or worse, much has changed since 9/11 including a new federal agency, the Department of Homeland Security, which the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) falls under — an agency many frequent travelers engage in a love-hate relationship.
However, if you’ll be in the New York City area anytime soon, I highly suggest a visit to the memorial — but you’ll need to plan ahead to get tickets.
To visit the 9 | 11 memorial, I encourage you visitwww.911memorial.orgto obtain visitor passes and to plan your visit. When you visit the memorial website you can take an interactive tour, visit the museum shop, and make a donation to support the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.