9/11: 21 years later

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Thomas Svensson

New York City, NY.

It has been 21 years since the destructive attacks of 9/11. The Orion honors the memory, actions and sacrifices of everyone impacted by that historic day.  

In 2001 the world was still adjusting to the early stages of the new millennium. Suddenly, four deadly attacks occurred and brought our nation to a momentary standstill.

Two of the planes were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon and a fourth plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field. 

Millions of people living in America, and across the world, were in shock and disbelief. Many remember where they were and what they were doing on that haunting day. Yer Thao, a program coordinator at Chico State, recalled how the events of 9/11 impacted the nation.

“It was a buzz, we weren’t sure if it was real or not until we got into the classroom and our teacher turned on the TV and we saw that it really was a hijacking and that a plane really crashed into one of the buildings,” Thao said. 

Everyone was watching intently as more and more information came out. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives. America was affected in more ways than one. Aside from the loss of life, the attack pulled our country into an armed conflict.

 “9/11 is what launched us to the war in Iraq, we were at war for a very long time after 9/11,” Thao said. 

The Iraq war began on March 20, 2003 and ended on October 21, 2011. The final U.S. troops left in December of 2011. There were 4,400 U.S. casualties and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed.

Former President George W. Bush coined the phrase “War on Terror” to mobilize against Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda was allegedly acting in retaliation of America’s support of Israel, its involvement in the Persian Gulf War and its continued military presence in the Middle East.

Thao said a sense of fear, anxiety and hatred came to light after the events of 9/11. 

“I really discovered that the sense of uncertainty, the sense of fear and anxiety I developed, and that others developed, was because we all saw what humans can do to one another and were aware of what could potentially happen again,” Thao said. “It was something that ultimately created a greater sense of fear and uncertainty for the world.”

The permanent memorial to the victims of 9/11, “Reflecting Absence,” is located where the Twin Towers once stood. The names of all the victims are engraved onto the bronze panels. 

The City of Chico has its own 9/11 memorial on Manzanita Ave., next to Chico Fire Department Station 5. In 2021 the memorial was vandalized multiple times

The vandalism involved the burning of several American flags throughout last year. A drawing of a firefighter who died in the tragedy was also burned.
Despite the vandalism from last year, the City of Chico held their annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony at the memorial Sunday morning.

Samanta Sanchez can be reached at [email protected]