9/11 - 20 Years Later
This recap will mention ongoing politics, including personally held opinions on such. Read at your own risk.
Twenty years ago, two hijacked planes crashed into the Twin Towers, one by one, until both buildings collapsed, while a third hijacker flew a plane directly into the Pentagon. The destruction of the towers left almost 3,000 people dead, hundreds of families in mourning, and America in a state of deep shock. Some people and reporters who had to strength to comment on it described this as Pearl Harbor 2.0, and for a good reason. This attack, ordered by Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, prompted President George W. Bush to order America's troops into Afghanistan to fight against the Al-Qaeda terrorists and hunt down Osama Bin Laden.
Ever since this horrific event, we Americans have always been on alert, tuning in to see the progress of our movement against Al-Qaeda while also defending the many innocent Afghan people and avenging everyone who died because of the terrorists' extremist agendas.
The next 19 years saw America fighting in all corners of the Middle East. America continued to fight against Al-Qaeda while also expanding its fighting forces into Iran and Iraq in search of another terrorist group called the Taliban, all with the intentions of putting an end to the reign of terror enacted by both terrorist groups.
In 2020, President Donald Trump issued the order to bring the American troops abroad home from Iran and Afghanistan. He and the Americans hoped that, by doing so, this would've guaranteed a cease on the ongoing war and that the Middle Easterns would've taken over in holding off against the Al-Qaeda and reclaiming the land that was rightfully theirs.
This proposition was finalized in August 2021 when President Joe Biden ordered an urgent leave of all the American troops to depart from Afghanistan. Similarly, he hoped that the Afghan people had what it took to hold down the fort and fight back against the invading Taliban forces. But, unfortunately, this decision ended up proving itself a catastrophic one. A good portion of American troops was left in Afghanistan after the rest of the U.S. Army's departure, and 12 American troops were killed in the crossfire – along with many out Afghan citizens – in a suicide bombing in Kabul. Worse still, the Afghan people were utterly powerless against the Taliban as they swooped in and crushed Kabul under its feet.
When the word got out about Biden's disastrous decision to pull the American troops out of Afghanistan on such short notice, and the harrowing ramifications that resulted from this hasty decision, this all left me wondering: have we really learned anything over the past 20 years? I know that's not something I should even think of asking, but considering how chaotic things have become, I can't help but ponder over it as much as other people may insist otherwise.
The long-term effects the fall of the Twin Towers had on America and the Middle Eastern countries were devastating and terrifying. We all prayed for good things to come for everyone, both America and the Middle Eastern countries, and for justice to be served to the terrorists who spread anarchy everywhere. And as America sent more troops into the Middle East, our nation's resolve continued to tighten as we continued to watch and ponder the motives and eventual outcome of our role in the war effort against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Considering how much in jeopardy the innocent people of Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan have been under the terrorist groups' encroachment even after our departure, we have reason enough to wonder if we left any significant mark in the battlefield. Have we succeeded in training the innocent people of the Middle East to fend for themselves? Have the travesties of our war ventures hardened our consciences? What can still be done to stop the chaos and madness lingering about in the Middle East? Should we have stuck around longer? Should we have departed years ago when the time was right?
I had to put with such questions as these in our family's and friends' discussions about the ongoing catastrophes and political agendas, and I'll admit, they continually left me feeling even more torn than ever.
And one other question that we should not ignore is, what would the terrorist groups, especially the Taliban, do with the American weaponry left behind? That's frightening enough as it is because that could potentially spark another war with another innocent country given all that armory power at their disposal.
However, no matter what the future may bring, let us not forget what major successes we did accomplish in this struggle, and hopefully, have yet to accomplish.
On 9/11, a fourth hijacker snagged a plane and piloted it in the hopes of crashing it into the U.S. Capitol after the other three completed their missions. That aircraft was United Airlines Flight 93, and all the passengers on board, thanks to quick thinking and a strong, steady conviction from them all, sacrificed their lives to prevent the plane from going anywhere close to Washington D.C. They had done so by seizing the controls from the terrorists and steering the plane downwards toward a farm field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania instead. If it weren't for the remarkable bravery of these individuals, we would not have had a government, and we would not have had the urge to wage war against the terrorists in the first place.
The incidents of these passengers and their heroic deeds were translated to film brilliantly by director Paul Greengrass when he made United 93. Part of its strong appeal came from the director's cooperation with the families of the victims who were on that plane, so its authentic representation and recount, thanks to that aspect, did these people justice.
And, while New York and America remember the loss of the Twin Towers and all the innocent people inside and around it who died from its wreckage, New York was at least successful in erecting a new series of skyscrapers meant to fill in as the New World Trade Center. These buildings opened up one by one and, so far, have been successful in operating as sufficient, capable business platforms.
One World Trade Center, the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere at 1,776 ft., opened on November 3, 2014.
Two World Trade Center is in the works to be constructed alongside the existing buildings.
Three World Trade Center opened on June 11, 2018.
Four World Trade Center opened on November 13, 2013.
Seven World Trade Center, one of the earliest buildings to be completed as part of its reconstruction, opened on May 23, 2006.
And on the memorable day of May 2, 2011, good luck was in the American troops' favor when they tracked down Osama Bin Laden in his compound in Pakistan and executed him for his crimes against humanity. In the aftermath of Laden's death, he was buried at sea, and Al-Qaeda was left in a state of shock with their infamous leader gone, temporary as that was.
The story that led up to this long-awaited retribution was also translated nicely into film with Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty. As of this writing, I've not even seen this movie, unlike with United 93, but this should be worth a watch for anyone interested in seeing the steps taken to ensure how justice can be, and was, served.
I recently watched a news report that chronicled the events of 9/11 and what an effect this had on people since then. It covered, among other topics, how several schools across America are considering handing books centered around 9/11 as mandatory reading assignments to middle school and high school classes. This is the right way to go for today's generation; these kids, too, can pick up on what happened that day and why it still lingered to everyone since then, just like how we should never forget why the Holocaust still lingers with us.
Our intertwinements with the Middle East and against the terrorist groups have been a big fat mess, and our departure from the Middle East ironically did little more than add fuel to the flames.
Whether we will rejoin the war or not, whether the terrorists will gain the upper hand again or not (hopefully not), there will always be something or someone out there that has the necessities and willpower necessary to put the terrorist groups in their place, eradicate them off the face of the Earth, and maybe, just maybe, peace will be restored to the Middle East when it needs it most.
Until then, I ask each and every one of you to join me in prayer for these necessities to come forth. We pray for the willpower of innocent Middle Eastern people to persevere and never stop in their fight for freedom. We pray for the strength necessary to continue our fight against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, regardless of our involvement. We pray that our experiences from the Middle East will have given us the necessary preparations for whatever future catastrophe may come with a clear state of mind and the iron will to persevere through it.
And most importantly, let's pray for all the families across our country who lost a loved one to the nightmare that was 9/11. May they, too, find the strength to persevere without ever forgetting what happened that dreadful day.
Stay strong, everyone, and no matter what happens, we must never forget that unprecedented event or give up hope for a brighter tomorrow.
Frankly, if there's ever any assigned watching to be recommended for high school classes, United 93 and Zero Dark Thirty should be the movies to pick for that purpose. However, I think it depends more on how thoroughly they compliment the assignments accompanying them and how well the students can stomach the brutality and adrenaline expected from these movies.
Among such assigned reading books that the schools have in mind include Falling Towers, written by Jewell Parker Rhodes. You can check it out here.