You weren’t born 20 years ago, right at the beginning of the 21st century. But ask your parents, or your grandparents, or your teacher: “where were you on the morning of September 11, 2001?” and I’ll bet that they will remember.
This is far from being an ordinary date. And adults tend to remember where they were, who they were with, and what they were doing when they learned of very important news.
And what happened that morning, between 8:46 am and 10:28 am —a gap of just over an hour and a half— was such a shocking thing that no one who had ever been born and was over 12 or 13 years old in the epoch manages to forget.
I, who was over 12 or 13 years old, was already a journalist, living in New York and I saw almost everything happen in front of me. The images of that morning will never leave my memory.
You’ll probably also see these images, which will be on TV all day today, as a tribute to the people and countries that were affected in some way by the events of that September 11th in New York.
New York is the largest city in the United States, where a thousand things happen all the time and there is always news. That’s why my husband and I, who is also a journalist, decided to live there for a while. There is always something to do, see, know, witness, write about.
But nothing that dramatic. The events of 9/11/2001 were the worst event in the history of this city that is one of my favorites in the world, and that I always advise all the children I know to visit.
There, almost all the streets are numbered instead of having people’s names or dates, as happens here in Brazil. So, even though it’s a pretty big city, it’s very easy to get from one place to another, it’s just a matter of knowing a little math.
Are you on 28th street and need to get to 14th street? Just walk in the direction where the numbers are decreasing.
And no one need be afraid to go to New York because of what I’m going to tell you here. That terrible attack took place two decades ago, and the city has been in existence for over 400 years!
But that day, it was very scary. First, a plane full of passengers was taken over by a group of terrorists, who pretended to be normal passengers, entered the cockpit, armed, and took his place.
Terrorists are people, or groups of people, who use violence to cause fear, panic, terror. In general, they act to cause pain and even kill innocent people, and thus draw the attention of governments and society to a cause they believe is just but see no other way to defend it. It’s cowardice.
And on September 11, 20 years ago, terrorists from a group called al-Qaeda, which was led by Osama bin Laden, swerved the plane they were on and took aim right at the top of one of the Twin Towers, as they called two huge, identical office buildings that had existed in New York since 1973. Each had more than 100 floors.
At 8:46 that morning with clear skies and open sun, this plane crashed into one of the identical buildings. With the shock, the plane exploded, and everyone inside it died: the pilot, all the passengers, the flight attendants and the terrorists.
When this happens and is part of the plan, it is called a “suicide attack”, because the very people who cause the death of others also die.
But the tragedy of that morning was just beginning. Less than 20 minutes later, at 9:03 am, another plane full of passengers was hijacked by terrorists from the same group and crashed into the other twin tower.
That plane also exploded, and everyone inside it died, as did many people in the buildings. In total, 2,749 lives were lost.
The crashes of the planes against the buildings caused a cloud of black smoke that came from the highest floors and invaded the sky of the city. An insane rush began, and people who were inside the two buildings of the World Trade Center (the official name they had) were descending towards the street, through the stairs and elevators.
It turns out that some people were trapped on the floors above where the planes crashed and had no way out. The buildings were on fire, and they weren’t going to make it down the stairs and through the fires without getting hurt.
Several fire trucks arrived in front of the towers, but they didn’t have any stairs high enough to reach these people.
Then, the first among the biggest scares happened. A minute before 10 am, one of the twin towers collapsed. It was as if that giant building was melting: it was crumbling from top to bottom and turning into a thick, white, hot dust, like sand, which took over the streets around and covered the people who were nearby.
At 10:28, the other tower, which had been without its twin for less than half an hour, also collapsed.
Many other bad things happened because of this attack, but they are the subject of another text. Today is the day to remember –or get to know– this story, and think about creating a world in which this will never happen again.
EVERYONE READS TOGETHER
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