9/11, Seven Years Later


Today of course marks the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the most gruesome instance of terrorism on U.S. soil and an event from which there will never be anything like full deliverance. Certainly the victims of the attacks and their families are especially on our minds today.

Since the moment of the attacks, reason has provided on-the-ground reporting, analysis, and commentary on everything that has exfoliated from the attacks regarding homeland security; foreign policy; civil liberties; government success, failure, and expansion; and much more.

For an archive of reason's coverage that started on September 11, 2001 through 2005, go here.

Our first print issue after the attacks, December 2001, asked "Will civil liberties be a casuality in the war on terrorism?"; worried that the war on terror would become a "new cold war"; and explained the "occidentalist mind-set" that helped make the attacks possible. 

Our October 2002 issue asked "What Price Safety?" and featured a special section on "Security and Freedom in an Age of Fear."

More reason coverage of the attacks and their aftermath is collected here.

NEXT: Are You Experienced?

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  1. And 52 years ago today I left for the Army, to fight the cool war. The wars rage on, one after another. Seems like my time may have been wasted. Thanks to all my friends and neighbors (especially all the Charlie Rangels) that gave me the opportunity to enjoy national service.

  2. I really liked the cross-like way the sun shines between the two buildings in the picture.
    It kinda puts the whole thing into perspective.
    (You know, the whole religious nutcases killing each other and dragging all of us into it thing)

  3. Man, I remember that morning. I was in my apartment on the Upper East Side, I had just gotten up, poured myself some coffee, and turned on NY1. They were focusing on the first plane impact, but had no clue what it really was–because nobody truly understood how fucking huge the towers were, it was being treated like a Cessna had hit it accidentally.

    Then the second plane hit, and all hell broke loose. I was in email communication with work at 17th and 5th Ave (where they had an excellent view straight down 5th), and they sent me an email: “Stay where you are”. I was on the phone with my friend a few blocks away when we both watched the first tower come down in total shock (phones went out shortly afterwards). We later walked around Carl Schurz park as the fighter planes blasted overhead and the plume from the site wafted eastward.

    A few days later I was working late and the guy who did maintenance on our servers came in. He had been walking out of the towers when the planes hit. He was still in shock, and relayed to us what he had seen: a women being struck by the falling landing gear; destroyed bodies on the ground; and terror. He was totally shaken.

  4. I spent the whole morning with the entire building in my office watching our only TV and wondering if my friends who worked near Broadway and Cortlandt were dead. They were late for work. One was stuck in a subway for a few hours and the other walked up out of the subway in time to see the second plane hit.

    I visit New York often. The first time someone asked me if I went to Ground Zero to get some pictures, like it was a tourist attraction, my wife actually stepped in front of me because she thought I was going to punch him.

  5. The pilot of AA-11 was John Ogonowski. He had served in the Air Force, and was also a farmer. He was involved in conservation efforts, and also this great program where he leased out small plots of his land cheap to Southeast Asian immigrants in Lowell, so they could grow their own crops, both to connect back to the rura lifestyles they had lived before, and so that they’d be able to raise certain vegetables they were used to that aren’t commonly available. A real selfless, community guy.

    What a waste. Such a shame.

  6. The day the music died.

  7. Epi, nice comment. I was knew someone that was murdered by the terrorists that day in the WTC. He was such a nice, good-hearted young man, about 28 yrs old. Craig Lilore was his name. He graduated NY Law School in 1998 and was working in the towers for a law firm. He had just married and had a baby. I remember finding out from the ny times obits some weeks after the crash as I hadnt seen him in a while b/c after school everyone just kinda does their own thing. You have a few hardcore friends but you just lose touch with people over time. Which fucking sucks and makes you feel so fucking empty when you hear about something like that. I still think about him all the time. So sad.

  8. I went to a college where a lot of the kids parents worked in the financial sector in New York.

    I was in a lecture hall when a physics professor came in and announced that one tower of the WTC had just completely collapsed. There was no panic or anything among the students and faculty, just complete shock. We disbanded peacefully and went our ways. At the time we didn’t know why the tower had collapsed, except that a plane had flown into it.

    I went to the nearby student center with a friend where there was a large-screen TV. A room that was normally busy with kids getting breakfast was packed full but completely silent except the sound coming from the TV. They were replaying footage of the second plane hitting and of the first tower collapsing. Nobody so much as whispered to the person next to them.

    I remember kids trying to get in touch with their parents who worked in the building, but not being able to get through because all phone lines and cell towers were busy.

    What a horrible day

  9. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was in my office in Jersey City. Right off the Pavonia PATH station and right across the water. The noise of the first plane hitting rattled the windows. And saw pretty much everything else until we evacuated until the first building collapsed (as we were discussing whether or not the building would stay standing). I spent the whole day stranded in Jersey with a coworker of mine (I lived in the Upper West and used to take the PATH from WTC) trying to figure out how we’d get back.

    Said coworker’s best friend from childhood was a firefighter that was supposed to be off that day, but he said he was the type that would rush in at the first sign of trouble. Turns out, he did and is no longer with us. I never met the guy, but from the stories I heard, I wish I had. He sounds like a terrific guy and fun guy to drink with.

    I’m sure the people that were there that day remember the volley of calls that they made to make sure that your friends were ok. It seems like everyone I know had one or two friends that they forgot to call during those first few days and realized a couple of days later, “Oh shit, I forgot to call X! I haven’t heard from them yet. I hope they’re ok.” Fortunately, for me, they all were.

  10. My wife used to work for the Chicago office of Aon consulting, which also had offices in 2 World Trade. They lost 175 people that day.

    My wife had been to New York and met a bunch of people there, including Jim Berger, one of the executives, who she remembered fondly. He was last seen helping people get out of the tower.

    His favorite song was Springsteen’s “Thunder Road,” and The Boss sent his family a video of a special solo performance, which was played at his memorial service.

    That’s as close as I come to a 9/11 connection, but it still stings.

  11. I was in grad school and on my way to a paper presentation. As I crossed campus I saw a lot of students standing in an open space around a radio, listening to the news. I was able to pick up that two planes had flown into the WTC. I walked on to the paper presentation thinking for sure that it would be cancelled and we would be sent on our way.

    Nope. Instead, the scheduled paper was replaced with a working paper by one of the faculty on the Economics of Terrorism, and things proceeded as normal. I don’t remember a thing about the paper. I just remember sitting there, waiting for it to be over, thinking “we’re really, really bad people.”

    God bless the survivors, and families of the victims.

  12. I was in middle school in Dallas. We made empty jokes about it to seem like we weren’t scared shitless.

  13. I was in high school bio class. Depending on what which teacher felt like the rest of the day, they either pretended like nothing happened or turned on the tv and let us watch. I don’t think I quite understood the full impact of what happened until after I got home, before I thought this was just like another Oklahoma City-like bombing. I really thought it was domestic terrorists at first, since that was where all the incidents on our soil came from in the 1990s.

  14. Oh, does anyone remember that Onion article that said everything was officially back to as normal as possible when the fat kid in school could be made fun of again? Yeah, that’s pretty much the way it was in my high school.

  15. Thanks for your comments and memories. On the West Coast, we stopped eating breakfast as the second plane hit and it dawned on us that we were under attack. On the bus ride downtown, there was dead silence but many people had radios on in their ears. The first tower collapsed before I got to work. Do people remember how we thought maybe there were several, even dozens, more planes out there being hijacked? It leaves a pit in my soul.

  16. I was a couple minutes late for work and standing outside my building on Broadway one block away, gazing at the flames coming out of the first tower, when I saw the 2nd plane hit. Then I ran, and it started raining office paper. Somewhere in Midtown I heard that a tower collapsed and I simply didn’t believe it, until I got home hours later.

  17. Somewhere in Midtown I heard that a tower collapsed and I simply didn’t believe it, until I got home hours later

    When I saw the first one come down I literally was not believing my lying eyes. It was un-possible. It took me about a minute to actually grasp the implications.

  18. I was getting ready for school, listening to the radio, and suddenly the stupid radio DJs sounded all wrong. I went downstairs and told my dad to turn on the TV right away, and we saw the first tower fall.

    I was saying to my parents “It’s some kind of mistake, right?” when the second tower fell, too. School was so strange that day (even in Canada). We had TVs on in every room; didn’t really get any work done. Nothing felt real. I just wanted to get home and find out if my cousin and her husband were all right.

    That night, my mum kept the TV on during dinner. She never does that. We found out later that night that my cousin was fine, but that she had almost gone to a meeting in one of the towers that day.

  19. Ramzi Yousef, the guy behind the first World Trade Center bombing, had boasted that the next time, they would bring both of them down.

    On the morning of 9/11 while watching the towers burn on television, I remembered Yousef’s boast, and I consoled myself that the terrorists had screwed up again because the towers were still standing.

    Then one of the towers vanished into a large cloud of dust, and when I figured out what that meant, it just broke me.

  20. When the towers fell, I was in the car listening to the whole thing on the radio, so I didn’t see the video footage. I remember assuming they must have toppled over sideways; it never occurred to me they would drop into their own footprints like a controlled demolition. I figured the casualties must be in at least the high five figures.

    All things considered, we got off really light that day, with only 3,000 dead. One reason I am so hawkish on the “draining the swamp” approach to dealing with Islamists is I have no confidence we will be as lucky next time.

  21. I think the next big attack will surprise us all by being from a domestic group.

  22. I should add, non-Muslim domestic group. Mostly because we’re probably not as focused on them anymore.

  23. I woke up after the second plane had hit, listened to the radio for a while, then went to class for some reason. There was an a middle eastern student in class who was gloating over the attacks. “Did you hear about the bombings? This is why you don’t fuck with arabs!” I was paralyzed with rage and I didn’t kick the shit out of him or even say anything, which I regret to this day. I wore my steel-toed boots the next time class met in hopes of seeing/killing him, but I never saw him again.

    I don’t really remember much else from that day, other than saying “fuck” a lot. Apparently my mom was worried that I was going to either join the Army or kill someone.

    My most vivid memory of the day is that my friend’s girlfriend was wearing some sexy leopard-print stripper heels. Strange how the mind works.

  24. I really liked the cross-like way the sun shines between the two buildings in the picture.

    It kinda puts the whole thing into perspective.
    (You know, the whole religious nutcases killing each other and dragging all of us into it thing)

    Yeahhhh. I too remember that terrible, terrible morning when the infamous Twelve Apostles crashed the planes into the towers …

    Seriously, that morning sucked. I was still at home, getting ready for work, when I heard about the first crash on the radio. Unfortunately, I was listening to the Howard Stern show — not the best place to get unvarnished and reliable news coverage. At first I half-thought it was a joke, until it occurred to me to turn on the TV and look at CNN.

    My God …

    It was an awful, scary day.

  25. R.C. Dean,

    One reason I am so hawkish on the “draining the swamp” approach to dealing with Islamists is I have no confidence we will be as lucky next time.

    One reason I am not is that I see 9/11 as a failure for the folks behind the attack. In other words, Islamic terrorists have simply gotten nowhere near their goals of “regime change” anywhere in the Islamic world. The vast majority of Muslims did not respond to them in the way that the perpetrators hoped that they would.

  26. I’m from New York, but I was living in Boston at the time. I usually got in to work at 10:00 or later. By the time I got to work, they were sending everyone home. On their way out of the building, someone told me that planes had crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Then, I didn’t understand why everyone was leaving. It was terrible, sure, but why didn’t they just keep working? I went upstairs to the office. Someone had a portable TV. I watched the first tower collapse with a sick knot in my stomach. I didn’t know that they had (mostly) evacuated and was sure that tens of thousands of people had been killed. As a New Yorker, it seemed almost certain that I would have known some of them. Later in the day, I remembered that an old friend of mine that I’d lost contact with was a NYC firefighter. Once I was back in contact with all of my family and friends in NY, I contacted his family. Luckily, he hadn’t been working that day and was alive and well.

  27. I used to work on the 87th floor of Tower 1, first one hit. Radio antenne on the roof.

    Anyway, anyone know of websites with pictures and/or videos of people hitting the bottom after jumping.
    The MSMedia has censored those things because they believe we deserved it.

  28. Did you miss when the Republican Convention replayed the most graphic of those videos as part of a “tribute”, Terry?

  29. I was eating a donut and drinking coffee at my desk in 7 West 34th Street (across from the Empire State Building) at about 9:10 when my sister said to get out before they hit the ESB with a plane too. I responded with a brilliant “uh…what?”. Saw it on the intertubes (no TV in the office) I eventually sent the whole office home at about 10 and was walking uptown on 6th when the second tower fell. I couldn’t see the tower but could clearly see the WTC building with the pyramid roof completely engulfed in a brown/tan cloud of debris. It didn’t look like smoke, it looked like and avalanche. Even though I was at about 37th street then, me and a bunch of people started running north, actually afraid the cloud would catch us!

    Walking home to the Bronx was surreal, crowds of people gathered around cars with 1010 Wins on Central Park West hearing the latest news, reminding me of pictures of people from the time JFK was shot. Around 137th street seeing fighter planes blast through the sky while many tired people in suits trudged north past numb looking neighborhood folks. Managed to get on a bus at 225th street and the driver actually made an unscheduled stop on the block with my apartment building because by then the blisters on my feet from wearing dress shoes on a 10 miles hike were starting to burst.

    Then in the next few days hearing stories about a cousin who left his office on 95 to get a cup of coffee at 8:45, a friend who was late to a 8:30 photo shoot at Windows on the World due to a broken bike, a friends’ mother who was laid off from her job on one of the upper floor just a couple of weeks earlier. And hearing about the people who didn’t get out of the buildings.

    Here’s to the guys from Inwood, Damien Meehan and fellow altar boy Tommy Dowd, and especially Joe Kellet, who I last saw at the NYPD/FDNY Irish football game at Gaelic Park just a couple of weeks before.

  30. Bdb, if we get hit again, it’ll WILL almost certainly be Islamic terrorists. Get real, please.

  31. John–

    Oklahoma City was the biggest attack on American soil until 9/11. It was 100% domestic unless your a Oklahoma City Troofer who believes Tim McVeigh was a Muslim secretly.

  32. Terry: Enjoy. Hope you have some lotion handy.

  33. Damnit, Warty, why didn’t you Rick Roll him? That would have been the appropriate response!

  34. Fuckin’ A, I’m an idiot.

  35. I was late heading to campus that morning – apparently, I was the only one in my department still at home. I turned on the tv and was watching when the second plane hit.

    I remember crying as I watched people falling through the air; crying as I realized that this could only mean our country was about to go to war.

    Unable to stand being alone, I went to campus and told my colleagues what had happened – we didn’t even have a radio there, so no one knew what was going on and everything was business as usual. I was wide-eyed, shaken and tearful all day, but no one else got it because they hadn’t seen it for themselves, yet.

    I spent a lot of time trying to contact my friends in NYC.

    My dissertation advisor was in the air at the time; he spent time with a kind host family in Nova Scotia, where his plane had been forced to land.

  36. I remember thinking about the bomber that flew into the Empire State Building during World War Two when I heard about the first plane.
    It had to be something like that. Then the second one hit.

    I remember doing some math in my head too, RC. Antietam. Gettysburg. Shiloh. Thank God it was “just” a Pearl Harbor.

    I remember seeing the shot of Americans running panicked down a main street in New York City with a cloud of dust behind them and thinking “They put our city to the torch.”

  37. I enjoyed re-reading the Sept 12th article from Jesse Walker that said we shouldn’t go to war in Afghanistan and needed to treat the whole thing as a law enforcement matter.


    Ah, the good old days.

  38. Um, he was pretty much right.

    Also, you might want to work on your reading comprehension skills.

  39. The picture for me seems like it says that it’s time for a fresh start. What happened was really really sad but time to forget. .

  40. On 9-11 I couldn’t go to work. I was at home all day in bed with a nasty bout of the flu. I didn’t find out until the next day, when I noticed that everyone in the office was talking about “the attacks” and asked what was going on.

  41. “They put our city to the torch”
    joe, I thought you lived in Lowell.

  42. im so sorry for the people thatv died in that horrible accident

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