At 8:46 a.m., nine years ago, a commercial jetliner struck the north tower of the World Trade Center. 

Confusion reigned in those first few moments. Was it a small plane, a large one? What happened… how could that happen… how bad was it?

Cameras trained on the World Trade Center as reports of the crash began to hit the airwaves.

Then the unbelievable happened. A second plane, obviously a commercial jetliner, crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center.

A nation was stunned as it played out live on TV.

Many wondered at first if there could be a problem with the navigation system in New York. Could air traffic controllers be sending planes on a bad route?

But soon it became clear.  President Bush, who was visiting a school in Sarasota, FL, and had already been informed about the first crash, was pulled aside by Chief of Staff Andrew Card. He said to the President “A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack.”

On TV and radio, reports begin to say that the planes were hijacked before the crashes. Nationwide, flights that had not taken off yet were grounded.  Planes in the air were instructed to land. Military jet fighters were scrambled to patrol the sky’s over the U.S. The name, Osama Bin Laden, was mentioned as a possible suspect for the first time.

As the horrible morning wore on, a hijacked plan crashed into the Pentagon. The south, and then the north, towers of the World Trade Center collapsed, killing thousands and sending huge clouds of smoke and dust throughout the city.

Another hijacked plane went down in Pennsylvania. The passengers, who knew about the other hijacked flights through phone calls with loved ones, revolted. While they fought with the hijackers, the plane nosedived into a field.

Now, 9 years later, memorials are being held for the nearly 3000 people that died that day in the attacks.

A moment of silence was held in New York this morning at 8:49 a.m., the time of the first attack.

Thousands of people are gathering in New York, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon, to remember those that we lost. Millions across the U.S., and the world, are remembering the experience, the fear, and the sadness of that day.

At the memorial in New York, bagpipes and drums played a solemn tribute. Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a brief speech, saying “Once again we meet to commemorate the day we have come to call 9/11. We have returned to this sacred site to join our hearts together, the names of those we loved and lost. No other public tragedy has cut our city so deeply. No other place is as filled with our compassion, our love and our solidarity.”  The names of those who died in the attacks were read.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attended separate services at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.

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