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20 Facts to Remember on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11

Posted on September 11, 2021

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the greatest tragedy in modern American history. If you’re old enough, you probably remember exactly where you were when you heard the news that the twin towers had been struck by a plane. Perhaps you even remember watching in horror as the second tower was hit by a second plane. On this day, let’s honor the fallen by remembering 20 facts from that dreadful day, and may we never forget those we lost. 


  1. American Airlines Flight 11 left Logan Airport (Boston) at 7:59 AM en route to Los Angeles. There were five hijackers on board. It is believed the hijackers took control of the plane just moments after takeoff. 

  2. At 8:32 AM, FAA officials were notified that Flight 11 had been hijacked and they, in turn, notified NORAD. Two F-15 fighter jets were sent out from Otis Air National Guard Base at 8:53 AM. 

  3. Flight 11 crashed into the northern facade of the North Tower at 8:46 AM. 

  4. The destruction of all three staircases in the tower when Flight 11 hit made it impossible for those above the impact zone to escape. Some died of smoke inhalation while others were seen jumping from the tower to escape the flames. 

  5. The South Tower was struck by United Airlines Flight 175 (which also came from Boston) at 9:03 AM. 

  6. Because news networks were focused on the towers with live coverage, the entire world saw the second plane crash into the South Tower at 9:03 AM Eastern Standard Time. 

  7. One stairwell was left intact after the crash, allowing 18 people to evacuate the South Tower, but more could have survived if they had evacuated immediately after the crash to the North Tower. 

  8. NYFD Battalion Chief Orio Palmer rushed into the South Tower to rescue victims from the impacted floors. He took the only working elevator up to the 41st floor, then ascended the stairs up to the 78th floor, where he was able to get several people down to safety. Palmer was heard on a radio recording just seconds before the tower collapsed, taking his life along with other firefighters. 

  9. The heroic acts of law enforcement saved many lives on that day. More law enforcement officers died on September 11 in the line of duty than any other single day in American history. 

  10. One such officer was Stephen Siller, who had just finished his shift in Brooklyn and was on his way to play golf, but upon hearing the news, he turned around to help those in need. Strapping on 60 pounds of gear, he raced through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and gave his life while saving others. 

  11. 343 firefighters gave their lives on that day. Every single off-duty firefighter was recalled for this historic, emergency operation. Their courage resulted in many lives being saved. 

  12. Associated Press photographer Richard Drew snapped a picture of a man falling headlong from the towers. This iconic and sad picture is now called “The Falling Man.” 

  13. Hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic debris spread across the Lower Manhattan area due to the collapse of the towers. Many were infected (the number is unknown) and died just days, weeks, or even years later from illness. 

  14. At 9:37 AM, American Airlines Flight 77 flew into the western facade of the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, killing 125 people. 

  15. Former Georgetown University basketball coach John Thompson had originally booked a ticket for Flight 77, but had to change his plans to be on Jim Rome’s radio show. He recounts that he felt the impact of the crash from his home near the Pentagon. 

  16. United Airlines Flight 93 left Newark International Airport at 8:42 AM en route to San Francisco. After being hijacked, the plane was turned around in the direction of Washington D.C. It is believed that the intended target was either the U.S. Capitol or the White House. 

  17. One of the passengers of Flight 93, Todd Beamer, recited the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm to a GTE airphone supervisor. He also told her that they were going to do something. 

  18. The courageous passengers of Flight 93 attempted to prevent the terrorists from reaching their target. The plane went down and crashed into an empty field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 10:03 AM. 

  19. After both towers had been hit, fighter jets were sent out from Langley Air Force Base. At 10:20 AM, Vice President Dick Cheney issued orders to shoot down any commercial aircraft that could be positively identified as being hijacked. However, these instructions were not relayed in time for the fighters to take action.

  20. In his address to the nation that night, President George W. Bush stated, “These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.” 


Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). That’s exactly what so many brave men and women did on that tragic day. I wonder, would we have done the same thing if we had been in their shoes? Let’s not forget their sacrifice. Let’s honor them and remember their incredible heroism and courage in the face of death. Never forget. 

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