Realizing the World Has Changed

By Austin Durkin:

The days following September 11, 2001, were just as hard as watching the towers fall. There was a massive pile of twisted metal that used to be referred to as the financial center of the world. It was now America’s job to clean up the mess and rescue anyone who might still be alive under the rubble. The number count of toxic contaminants in the smoldering debris was approximately 2,500. Many of these contaminants were known carcinogens. This toxic dust was said to affect 18,000 people in the vicinity of Ground Zero, the base of the Twin Towers’ debris, and around the surrounding areas. However, this was not discovered until months later. The main problem during the aftermath, and the days following the attack, was trying to rescue anyone trapped under the burning pile of metal. Two 110 floor towers were leveled, and the debris trapped many people within it for days. “After the towers collapsed, only 23 individuals in or below the towers escaped from the debris, including 15 rescue workers.”(Wiki). We will never know how many people might have survived the collapse and died in the air pockets of the debris. There are so many unidentified deceased even to this day. Over the course of many days, over 3,000 children slowly found out that they no longer had parents and guardians to hold and hug after this tragic event.

The World Trade Center was a place for global trade. With that gone, many businesses worldwide were confused and unsure. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA or just Dow) closed at 9,605 points on September 10, 2001. After the attack on 9/11, the Market was closed until September 17th. Reopening, the average dropped to 8,921 points, or a 7.1% point decline. That was a record for a one-day point decline. Furthermore, the damage costs after the attack on 9/11 exceeded $10 billion.

After and during 9/11, over 4,500 airplanes of all kinds had to immediately land and were grounded for 3 days in Canada, America, and any American territories. The only planes in the sky that day after 12:20 pm were military fighter jets, armed-and-ready with orders to engage and, if necessary, shoot down any aircraft on sight. This showed America that we needed to make protocols for these types of situations. That is why the Aviation and Transportation Security Act was created by the US Congress in 2001. This formed the Transportation Security Administration. This act was the reason airport security became so harsh and strict. It also put more air security in the skies.

The years following were harsh, as military of all branches, were now being sent to fight in the Afghanistan and Iraq. The war funds needed for just this 9-year period (2003-2011) totaled over $3.5 trillion. We lost over 6,100 US soldiers in the war against terrorism. The amount of wounded US soldiers and personnel is over 1 million. These wars were most likely bound to happen, but they started with one tragic day on US soil that has scarred millions of Americans for almost two decades.

Because of the 9/11 attack, President George W. Bush, and all other branches of government, came together and did something that spiked controversy for many. They traded bits of our comfort freedoms for the promise of safety in America. This was known as the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001. During President George W. Bush's speech addressing the nation on 9/21/01 he said, “Tonight, we face new and sudden national challenges. We will come together to improve air safety, to dramatically expand the number of air marshals on domestic flights, and take new measures to prevent hijacking. We will come together to promote stability and keep our airlines flying, with direct assistance during this emergency. We will come together to give law enforcement the additional tools it needs to track down terror here at home. We will come together to strengthen our intelligence capabilities to know the plans of terrorists before they act, and find them before they strike.”(Washington). Though this became a good thing at most times, it is still disheartening to think that this all started because of one plan by the terrorist group, Al-Qaeda, that only needed one day to complete its terrible deeds.


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