The 9/11 Attacks – 19 Years Later

The 9/11 Attacks – 19 Years Later

9/11 Tribute in Light and the New York City’s Lower Manhattan Downtown Skyline to commemorate the Memory of September 11, 2001. Manhattan, New York, USA September 11, 2015. (Shutterstock)

By Mary Campbell

Where were you on September 11, 2001 – the day that forever changed America? At 8:46 am eastern time, a passenger plane crashed into the 110 – story North Tower of the Twin Towers of the former World Trade Center in New York City.  The crash left a burning hole near the 80th floor, instantly killing hundreds of people and trapping hundreds more on the higher floors.  The collision caused a massive explosion that sent burning debris showering down over surrounding buildings and the streets below.  People ran to avoid getting hit by clouds of smoke and falling debris.  Reporters and photographers rushed to the scene to cover what they initially believed to be a terrible accident.  Onlookers watched from the street as the airplane stuck out through the sides of the building.  People ran frantically down stairwells as the tower came crashing down.  Ceilings fell over them, and floors collapsed beneath them. 

They tried desperately to make it out of the building before it collapsed at 10:28 am eastern time. 

People watched in horror, from the South Tower, and started leaving the building as the North Tower was evacuated.  At 9:02 am eastern time, when a plane hit the South Tower, it became clear this was no accident.  America was under a terrorist attack.  People ran down the stairwells of the South Tower, hoping to escape death.  Some made heartbreaking calls to family and friends to say their last goodbyes.  By 9:59 am Eastern time, the South Tower collapsed. 

Some were fortunate to make it out of the buildings alive; however, many perished beneath rubble and debris.  About 200 people jumped out of windows, falling to their death.  Reporters and photographers captured those disturbing images that played on the news and shown in newspapers worldwide. 

According to public records and the New York City Fire Department, about 3,000 people died: 

including men, women, and children ranging from 2 ½ years – old to 85-years-old.  Reportedly 343 firefighters and 60 police officers lost their lives on September 11, 2001.  While civilians ran from the devastation, the city’s first responders rushed inside the collapsing towers to help save lives.  Firefighters, police officers, medics, and other rescue workers came together to find survivors trapped under the rubble and pulled them to safety.  Many rescue workers, mainly firefighters, lost their lives due to smoke inhalation, falling debris, and fighting the blaze that consumed the Twin Towers.

Years after 9/11, there is evidence of lingering negative effects resulting from the events of that day. 

Many Americans suffered depression, stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even suicidal ideation, following the 9/11 attacks.  People who lived and worked in the area near the World Trade Center in New York, first responders, including rescue, cleaning, and recovery workers, developed these problems at a higher rate than others.  Children and adults complained of nightmares, trouble sleeping, flashbacks, and anxiety.

Toxic fumes, including lead and asbestos, remained in the air weeks after the terrorist attack, causing people to develop respiratory diseases, and other ailments.  Many rescue workers who responded to the scene, mainly firefighters, have since died due to 9/11 related illnesses.  Nearly 10,000 first responders and others, who were in the World Trade Center area on that day, were diagnosed with cancer. 

Most recently, on July 25, 2020, longtime firefighter, Rich Kubler, 53, died from liver cancer related to the 9/11 attacks.  Although he was retired at the time of the 9/11 attacks, he, like many other firefighters who have since died, volunteered his time to help save lives. 

He continued working, not realizing the negative impact 9/11 had on his health.  Eventually, he got testing and was diagnosed with cancer. He died soon after learning his diagnosis.  There is no need to delay treatment.  Federally funded healthcare programs are now available to offer free and low-cost medical services to those exposed by the 9/11 disaster.

We remember the victims, heroes, first responders, and the many firefighters, like Rich Kubler, who sacrificed themselves to save others.  As we approach the 19th Anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety may arise.  The 9/11 memorials can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder—calm feelings of anxiety before interfering with your daily functioning. 

Uncontrolled stress can negatively affect your health.  If you experience stress brought on by the 19th Anniversary of 9/11, consult with a mental health professional.

Sources: Public Records of the National 911 Memorial and Museum  

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