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

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

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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.

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.

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. One hundred and fifty tall ships, more than 40 military vessels, and some 70,000 pleasure craft were expected on the city’s waterways for the U.S. Independence Day event. PM/HB

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 a hijacked airliner in New York, September 11, 2001 file photo. 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. 

A fiery blasts rocks the World Trade Center after being hit by two planes.

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.

Policemen and firemen run away from the huge dust cloud caused as the World Trade Center’s Tower One collapses. (Getty Images)

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.

POY – YEAREND PICTURES 2001 – 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. Osama bin Laden and his organization al-Qaeda were held responsible for the attacks, that preceded the US-led war in Afghanistan. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine AS

No one could have imagined what would occur next.

People walk away from the World Trade Center tower in New York City early September 11, 2001. Both towers were hit by planes crashing into the building. Three hijacked planes crashed into U.S. landmarks on Tuesday, destroying both of New York’s mighty twin towers and plunging the Pentagon in Washington into flames in an unprecedented assault on key symbols of U.S. military and financial power REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton JC
People are helped away from the World Trade Center tower in New York City September 11, 2001. Both towers were hit by planes crashing into the building. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

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. 

A man falls to his death from the World Trade Center. (Getty Images)

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.

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.

A law enforcement officer reacts after the first tower of the World Trade Center fell in New York City early September 11, 2001. Both towers were hit by planes crashing into the building. Victims from the attack on the World Trade Center – many suffering from extensive burns – began arriving at hospitals in New York City about an hour after two planes slammed into the twin towers, witnesses said Tuesday. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton JC/jp
POY – YEAREND PICTURES 2001 – Rescue workers carry fatally injured New York City Fire Depatment Chaplain, Fether Mychal Judge, from one of the World Trade Center towers in New York City, early September 11, 2001. Both towers were hit by planes crashing into the buildings and collapsed a short time later. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton AS

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.

The rubble of the World Trade Center. (Corbis via Getty Images)
A New York City fireman calls for 10 more rescue workers to make their way into the rubble of the World Trade Center, days after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack. (Jim Watson/Getty Images)

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.”

Rescue workers sift through the wreckage of the World Trade Center, two days after two hijacked airplanes slammed into the Twin Towers. (Copyright 2001 by Getty Images)
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)

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