warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

9/11: Ten Years Later

Mary Slosson |
September 10, 2011 | 11:36 p.m. PDT

Executive Editor

Exactly ten years ago, coordinated attacks orchestrated by al Qaeda shocked the United States -- and the world -- when two airplanes hurtled into the World Trade Center towers, one struck the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and a fourth was forced down by passengers in a nobel effort to foil a portion of the terrorist plot.

Around the world, mothers, fathers, children, students, workers -- seemingly everyone -- stood still and watched in horror as the two towers fell and the death toll across the east coast grew to roughly 3,000 souls.

The United States launched a military response less than a month later, invading Afghanistan in search of the al Qaeda militants who organized the attacks.  A decade later, the United States is still involved in that and other foreign interventions resulting from counter-terrorism operations.

We at Neon Tommy are proud to present the best of our 9/11 commemorative coverage here, all in one place.

Some are vividly personal accounts, while others recount new information about the attacks that has come out in the past week.  And while some question the idea of commemorating the events at all, a September 11 memorial opens today in New York, in the heart of Ground Zero.


Our senior staff reporter, Tasbeeh Herwees, shares one of those intimate accounts: "There are a few scenes that I remember from those days with stunning clarity - Osama bin Laden’s portrait being flashed on my TV, the somber face of my principal as she tried to explain what happened, and the man at the grocery store who told my mother, days later, to go back to her country.

"I also remember putting on the hijab, my headscarf, and deciding to keep it on for the rest of my life," Herwees writes. "As a Muslim Arab-American, this tragedy doesn't define my life, but it has left a really big scar on it."

Read her full reflections in Here is What I Can Tell You.

Our associate sports editor, Johnie Freatman, tells the story of four former athletes -- a rugby player, a baseball player, a judo champion and a football quarterback -- who knew that they were going to lose their lives when terrorists took control of United flight 93.

They forged a bond that would save thousands of lives.

After a decision to storm the cockpit had been made, former shortstop Todd Beamer uttered the now-iconic phrase “Let’s Roll.”

Shortly thereafter, the plane crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Everyone on board perished.

Read that story here: What 9/11 Taught Us about Athletes.

Executive Producer Christine Detz's first thought after the 9/11 attacks was “we’re at war.”  

There was an eerie silence in her office, she writes, punctured only by the occasional “oh my God” or “did you hear.”

She shares her experience in Reflections on the Anniversary.

Former Marine Corps Sgt. Drew Scott enlist in the U.S. Marines at age 18, one year before the 9/11 attacks.

“I knew my original plan of joining the Marine Corps was about to be scrapped for this real service,” said Scott. “9/11 was gut wrenching and the drive to seek vengeance set in—I think of it as rattling a hornets’ nest.”

He learned, however, that war is not like anything one sees on television. It’s a lot of different things.

“It was exhilarating and it was terrifying,” said Scott. “It was ugly and, at times, it was beautiful when you were helping others.”

Read his story in A Marine's Experience.

Professor Mary Dudziak challenges the idea that we've been living in the 9/11 decade at all.

If we see 9/11 as causing the politics, culture and military actions that followed,  she writes, then we are giving the airplanes that slammed into buildings a powerful determinism. We are assuming that al Qaeda did not just slaughter thousands, but drove American politics for the next decade.

Read her critique in: When We Say That 9/11 Changed Something, What Are We Saying?

A special memorial service was held for the passengers of United flight 93, who forced their hijacked plane down in the fields of Southwestern Pennsylvania in order to spare the terror and loss of lives of others.

That remembrance is here.

Here are some of the best and most thought-provoking pieces that have emerged in the days leading up to the anniversary, selected by Neon Tommy staff and listed in no particular order.

Must-Reads of the Web, all in one spot.

When prose becomes too much, you can peruse our graphic Remembering September 11: By The Numbers and numerical run-down of the Cost of 9/11.

Harrowing new audio recordings from that horrific day ten years ago have emerged, with a terrifyingly close ear to the events of the day.

“Um, the cockpit’s not answering. Somebody’s stabbed in business class, and um, I think there is Mace that we can’t breathe,” Betty Ong, a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, is heard speaking to an American Airlines reservation agent in panic. “I don’t know, I think we’re getting hijacked.”

Read about the complete audio clips in New 9/11 Audio Recordings Reveal Panic and Confusion.

Finally, after ten years of pain, reflection, and healing, a new September 11 memorial is rising from the ashes.

Thanks for reading our coverage.

-Mary Slosson
Executive Editor



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.