9/11: 20 Years Later

The Impacts of an Unspeakable Tragedy

More stories from Evan Hull



A blue light shines where the Twin Towers once stood.

On Sept. 11, 2001, the United States of America was shaken to its core. Four planes hijacked by the terrorist group al-Qaeda crashed into the symbols of the USA.  Two into both towers that made up the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and one into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. All in all, 2,977 innocent people died as a result of the senseless attacks. So with the 20th anniversary of the attacks, let’s look back at what has happened as a result of the tragic day. 


The aftermath of the attacks were a mixture of grief, unity, and a craving for justice. Shortly after the attacks, President at the time George W. Bush authorized the invasion of Afghanistan in order to attack Taliban and al-Qaeda base camps. This would mark the beginning of a 20-year war that saw the transition of power between the Taliban, the U.S.-backed Afghani Government, and the Taliban again. Another invasion of Iraq was authorized just two years later, leading to the downfall of Saddam Hussein’s government and the implementation of a U.S. backed and democratically elected government. 


Domestically, Congress passed the Homeland Security Act in 2002, which created the Department of Homeland Security. The department, which oversees entities such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) focuses on domestic security to make sure that an attack such as 9/11 will never happen again. Congress also passed the USA PATRIOT Act, which gave government organizations such as the National Security Agency (NSA) unfettered access to surveillance and the legal ability to wiretap anybody’s phone domestically and internationally. This act has been a source of controversy as people argue that it interferes with civil liberties. 

Although the U.S. was shaken to its core, it has recovered remarkably. In 2014, the One World Trade Center was built. Topping 1,792 ft it is the tallest building in the United States and the Western Hemisphere, and the sixth-tallest building in the world. Surrounding the main building, the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum commemorates the victims of the attack, with a pool that surrounds the two bases of the former Twin Towers. On the borders of the two pools, plaques placed in alphabetical order list every single victim of 9/11 that died in New York. The Pentagon, where American Airlines Flight 77 crashed, has a memorial of its own, as well as Shanksville, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed. 


20 years later, the effects of that gruesome day are still being felt both here and around the world. It has led to wars, new governments, and overall a new way of life.