On September 11, 2001 the United States was attacked by Islamic extremists of Al Qaeda under the leadership of Osama bin Laden. They wanted to bring “The Great Satan” to her knees by attacking the symbols of her greatness: The World Trade Center representing the financial, the Pentagon representing the military, and the White House representing the government. Killed that day in Washington DC, New York and Pennsylvania were 2,297 people.
Stories abound of heroism, resilience, and quite a few “miracles.” Flights AA11 only had 92 passengers and UA175 had 65. Those two 767s had the capacity for 351 passengers each. Flights AA67 had 74, and UA93 only had 45. Both 757s had a capacity of 289 each. Over 350 passengers canceled their flights or didn’t show up for the 9/11 hijacked planes that fateful day. A Los Angeles Times journalist was in line to board Flight 11 when the newspaper called and said they needed him to go to Atlanta instead.
Over 44,000 employees worked in the Twin Towers. At the time of impact, it is estimated that there were fewer than 20,000 at work. A remarkable number of people were either absent or delayed. Elizabeth Kramer had stayed up late to finish her master’s thesis and was late getting to work. Two phone calls at home kept Bud Flannagan from leaving for work on time. Lorraine Wallace was sick that morning and arrived late. Strangely enough, of the 15 people in her office, 13 were late that day, and the other two made it out alive.
Exhausted from a trip to California, Rob Herzog reset his alarm to get up 30 minutes later, had to drop off laundry and pick up mail, then the Express Train door shut in his face as he tried to board. Delay after delay saved his life. One person had car trouble that lasted all morning then corrected itself. One woman suddenly had a desire for a cup of coffee and left the 80th floor of the WTC to go to a coffee cart outside the building. She hadn’t drunk coffee in a decade and couldn’t explain why the sudden urge. One man’s son vomited on his suit which he had to change, missing his carpool and taking a later train. One woman’s preschooler attended the WTC Day Care, but that morning he insisted on having a donut. Nothing could dissuade him, so she stopped to buy him a donut.
There should have been 5,000 more employees at the Pentagon who weren’t at work because of renovation construction. Had the trajectory of the plane been a little higher, it could have hit the inside ring on the opposite side of the Pentagon where the offices of the Secretary of Defense, the Chief Joints of Staff, and the highest military were located. Instead it hit the remodeled section that wasn’t fully occupied.
We have much for which to be thankful in Remembering 9/11. ■
— Loraine Joy is a small business owner and Arbuckle resident. Contact Loraine at firstname.lastname@example.org.