These images show horror and heroism in New York on 9/11, 19 years ago today

People watch as smoke billows from the two World Trade Center towers after planes crashed into each tower, in New York on September 11, 2001.

By Robert Pozarycki

The passage of time — 19 years, to be exact — has not faded the memories of the events of Sept. 11, 2001 that were seared into the consciences of New Yorkers there to witness it.

The coordinated terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93 killed nearly 3,000 Americans from all walks of life — and forever altered the course of American history and the New York skyline.

On Friday, the city and country — now dealing with horrors of a different kind from the COVID-19 pandemic — will pause to mark the 19th anniversary of the day of infamy, and honor the lives of victims killed in the attacks, and heroes who died attempting to save them.

The Japanese bark Kaiwo Maru sails up the Hudson River past the World Trade Center in New York on July 4 as part of the OpSail 2000 parade of tall ships. (PM/HB/Reuters)

Before 9/11, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center had become the symbol of our nation’s economic power — standing all above Lower Manhattan as the hub of commerce and business that employed tens of thousands from across the tri-state area.

The World Trade Center south tower (L) burst into flames after being struck by hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 as the north tower burns following an earlier attack by hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 in New York, September 11, 2001. (REUTERS/Sean Adair)

In 102 minutes on what had started out as a beautiful, late summer morning, terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center in one of the most harrowing episodes in history. The attackers crashed hijacked passenger jets into each tower, setting off massive office fires in each building.

Smoke billows from the two World Trade Center towers after planes crashed into each tower, in New York on September 11, 2001. (REUTERS)

Witnesses on the ground watched in horror as trapped victims above the impact zones began leaping to their deaths. Thousands of first responders — police officers, firefighters, paramedics — converged on the World Trade Center to save as many lives as possible.

Workers at St. Vincent’s Hospital wait for injured people from the World Trade Center towers after planes crashed into the buildings, in New York on September 11, 2001. (REUTERS)

Hundreds of firefighters made a strenuous march up the towers’ stairwells, while thousands of victims descended the stairs, to reach the fire zone and put the infernos out.

No one could have imagined what would occur next.

The remaining tower of New York’s World Trade Center, Tower 2, dissolves in a cloud of dust and debris about a

half hour after the first twin tower collapsed September 11, 2001. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

The South Tower of the World Trade Center fell just before 10 a.m. that day, followed a half-hour later by the North Tower. In 10 seconds, each 110-story building collapsed into massive clouds of death and debris that settled upon Lower Manhattan.

People walk away from the World Trade Center tower in New York City early September 11, 2001. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Firemen work around the World Trade Center after both towers collapsed in New York on September 11, 2001.  (REUTERS/Peter Morgan)

The horrors experienced in New York that morning were compounded by news out of Washington that the Pentagon had been struck by another hijacked airline at about 9:37 a.m. that morning. Moments after the South Tower fell, a fourth hijacked jet, Flight 93, crashed in rural Shanksville, Pennsylvania — thanks in large part to passengers who rebelled against their hijackers and thwarted another attack in our nation’s capitol.

A law enforcement officer reacts after the first tower of the World Trade Center fell in New York City early September 11, 2001. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
Rescue workers carry fatally injured New York City Fire Department Chaplain, Father Mychal Judge, from one of the World Trade Center towers in New York City, early September 11, 2001. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

New York suffered the worst losses in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Over the following eight months, construction workers and first responders combed the ruins at what was then called “Ground Zero,” removing debris while also recovering victims who died.

Firefighters comb the remains of the World Trade Center after the collapse September 11, 2001. (REUTERS/Peter

Morgan)

REUTERS/Peter Morgan
New York City firefighters and other emergency personnel survey the World Trade Center collapse area near Vesey and Greenwich Streets after the World Trade Center collapse September 11, 2001. (REUTERS/Anthony Correia)

Nearly two decades removed from the attacks, the death toll connected to 9/11 continues to grow today — as many of those who labored at Ground Zero have suffered debilitating illnesses related to their work in the recovery mission. The Fire Department, for example, lost 343 members during the attacks — and another 226 members in 19 years due to 9/11-related illnesses.

A group of firefighters search the remains of the destroyed World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Ground Zero was finally cleared of World Trade Center rubble in May 2002, and over the next decade, the site was rebuilt into a modern center of business. The Twin Towers footprints were preserved as part of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum — where the heroes and victims of 9/11 are honored and the history of that fateful day is preserved so all may “never forget.”

Am American flag flies near the base of the destroyed World Trade Center in New York, September 11, 2001. Planes crashed into each of the two towers, causing them to collapse. (REUTERS/Peter Morgan)
A New York City firefighter returns from battling building blazes near Vesey and Greenwich Streets after the World Trade Center collapse September 11, 2001. (REUTERS/Anthony Correia)
New York City firefighters take a break on West Street near the wreckage of the World Trade Center in New York City September 12, 2001. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)
A man is overcome with emotion as he pauses at a memorial at a fire station housing Engine 54 – Ladder 4 – Battalion 9 in New York September 14, 2001. (REUTERS/Peter Jones)
People pause at a memorial at a fire station housing Engine 54 – Ladder 4 – Battalion 9 in New York September 14, 2001. (REUTERS/Peter Jones)
President George W. Bush is shown with retired firefighter Bob Beckwith (R) at the scene of the World Trade Center disaster on September 14, 2001. (REUTERS/Win McNamee)
New York City firefighters hose down the still smoldering wreckage of the World Trade Center towers as FBI agents stand on a truck inspection platform (foreground) in New York, September 28, 2001.  REUTERS/Mike Segar

Images provided by Reuters.

 

More from Around NYC

>