Looking Back: 9/11, nearly two decades later

Ashley Averill

On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, the world stood still as news quickly spread that the city of New York was the victim of terror when the Word Trade Center fell.

Now, 18 years later, we look back on the event that rocked America and changed the way we look at national security.

Many of us were in elementary school or younger when it happened, but most people can tell you where they were the day the news broke. Radio and television stations picked up on the unfolding events, newscasts reported live coverage and Americans felt collective heartbreak.

At 8:46 a.m., the first plane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center and a mere 15 minutes later, at 9:03 a.m., the second plane crashed into the South Tower. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C. roughly 30 minutes later, a plane struck the Pentagon. A fourth plane crashed into a field south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was believed to have been targeting Camp David.

“I think this is one of the worst terrorist attacks to ever take place on American soil,” said Bill Illis, then a junior at Oakland University and a member of the Army reserves. “They have literally shut down the entire United States.”

Immediately in the aftermath, officials began to piece together the evidence, which pointed toward, among other groups, the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama Bin Laden. Bin Laden was also the mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

“They don’t know who’s done it yet,” said Paul Kibicek, OU political science professor at the time. “There are a lot of groups in the world that don’t like America. It’s a shock that we didn’t know anything about this. It just came out of nowhere.”

Others, such as 33-year-old senior, David Gardner, disagreed.

“The nation has become too comfortable,” he said. “You see this back in 1993 when they tried to bomb the Trade Center and nobody was around to police that kind of thing…and now this happens…What does this say about our airport security? That’s pretty scary.”

Then-President George W. Bush addressed the nation that afternoon. In his televised speech, he vowed to “hunt down” those responsible for the attacks.

“I think the repercussions are going to be echoed throughout the many months to come,” Illis said.

The Oakland Post reached out to staff and students at the time for their reactions to the tragic events.

“I’m numb basically,” said then-junior Adam Fuhrman. “I keep thinking these are images from a movie, but I know they’re not.”

Des Walker, office manager for the Center for Student Activities at the time, hadn’t seen so many students interested in U.S. affairs since the Gulf War.

“They [the government] need to let them know that the U.S. won’t take this,” said Chukunda Leshore, a junior at the time. “This will not be had.”