• M.A.Aponte

The history of "Patriot Day", 9/11/2001

Updated: Sep 1, 2019

First and foremost, Patriot day should not be confused with Patriots’ Day. Patriots’ Day

commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord which was fought near Boston in 1775 and it is held on the third Monday of April. This was also one of the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. But our focus is on Patriot Day. This is an event in which Americans observe the events of September 11, 2001 and remember those that were injured or loss due to a terror attack on the United States.


I want to share my personal experience of that day before giving you the facts and numbers. This first-person testimony (Primary source) of a historic event is helpful for those who were not born or too young to recall these events. However, I can recall the memory as if it was yesterday:


World Trade Center before 9/11/01

I lived in Queens, NY. In the building I lived in you can go to the roof and see the entire

Manhattan skyline. It was exactly two weeks since my arrival back home from Basic training in the Army. I woke up around 7am and called my girlfriend at the time to wish her a happy birthday. She was still sleeping. I decided to play a video game after my morning pushups/sit ups. I began to play “Operation Flashpoint” on my PC. In the middle of a heavy battle (I was in a tank), I received a call back from my girlfriend at the time and she told me to turn on the TV. I turned it on as she didn’t give me much details. The news was reporting a “accident” that caused an airplane to crash into the World Trade Center North Tower. There was no mention of a hijack or terrorist act. They started to speculate if the pilot had a heart attack, was under the influence, or was ill. They also failed to mention this was a commercial airline. I continued to watch the news and on live TV, I saw the 2nd plane crash. The news reporters kept stating it was an

accident, but I knew better. Although I had military training recently, my brother was in military intelligence reserves, my father was a former soldier, and we used to discuss threats besides countries. Nomadic terrorists were very much in our discussions before it was mainstream. My brother worked in wall street and he worked overnight. I immediately called him to see if he made it out of the Wall Street area. After several attempts of calling and leaving messages, he finally called me back. He said he was under the impressions I was talking about a video game but I remember the exact words I used: “NO BRO! We are under attack! The world trade center was attacked!” These words were used before the media. I told him to come over, so we can stick together in case “crap” hit the fan. As soon as he arrived, we both heard on the TV that the pentagon, the U.S. Department of Defense headquarters, was hit by a plan. This confirmed my suspicion and finally, so did the media.



We left my place and went to the roof. The cloud of smoke coming from the world trade center

(which we could see clearly at the time before its fall) felt as if it was part of a movie. We were angry, and our stress levels were high. We went to the elementary school to pick up our niece and bring her home. Fighter plans roared above us. We knew if things got worse, we needed at least the family accountability. We went back to the roof and had a portable radio with us. We witnessed the fall of the first tower. It was the most shocking thing I have ever seen. It felt like a punch to the gut. This was a building I used to go to when my father took me around Manhattan as a child. I recall going to the roof of one of the buildings to enjoy the sites and feel the sway of the building. And just like that, it was gone.


After most of the family where together and the attacks settled, I set off to my attached unit and assist in any way possible. My father was a paramedic and I was unsure if he was safe, but I know what he would have wanted his sons to do, so I focused on the mission at hand knowing the rest of the family was safe. Everyone was walking off the Queensboro bridge as if they were zombies. Most said little and faced forward. Only first responders and military could move into Manhattan. It became and felt like a war zone. The entire city was, for the first time in modern history, quiet almost somber, My family in the end was uninjured and my father showed up the next day.


9/11 tribute

What makes this day unique also is the changes we faced after those events. Former President George W. Bush declared a “war on terror” with a focus on Islamic nations that harbor and train extremist on the act of terrorism. On September 11, terrorist hijacked passenger filled commercial airplanes to use as weapons to strike at the world trade center and the pentagon. A total of 2,996 people was killed including the 19 hijackers and more than 6,000 others were injured. This day is forever marked in American history not only because of the lives we lost but as civilized people who must remember and stand together in the face of those who uses fear to manipulate and tear us apart.









References:

Patriots’s Day: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriots%27_Day

Casualties of the September 11 attacks: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_September_11_attacks

September 11 attacks: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11_attacks

History Channel on 9/11: https://www.history.com/topics/9-11-attacks/pictures/911-world-trade-center/series-of-photos-of-hijacked-airliner-attacking-world-trade-center-2

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