9/11 Attack


As no other event in U.S. history, not even Pearl Harbor, the deadly assaults on New York and Washington that took the lives of almost 3,000 people on 11 September 2001 shattered the nation's sense of security. The utter destruction of the Twin Towers in New York and the severe damage done to the Pentagon by Middle East terrorists signaled a changed world in the making, one that poses a constant threat of attack that the United States must guard against and defeat if its people are to live in freedom and safety. The nation responded first with stunned surprise and overwhelming grief, then with outrage and stern refusal to be intimidated.

What happened at the Pentagon that day and for days afterwards is a compelling story of trauma and tragedy as well as courage and caring and an instructive case study in coping with such appalling contingencies. Any history of this event must relate the resolve and fortitude exhibited by the military and civilians most immediately affected as well as the indispensable help that came from thousands of responders in the aftermath. In the first terrifying minutes after the plane crashed into the building the swift actions of survivors and rescuers helped save the lives of many who would otherwise have perished. The prompt response and subsequent performance of federal, state, and especially local agencies, in particular their coordination and cooperation with each other and with Pentagon authorities, provided invaluable lessons for dealing with other large-scale emergencies in the future.

Dr. Alfred Goldberg, Former OSD Historian
Pentagon 9/11