It was September 11th, 2001. The morning began like any other: people went to work, schools were in session, and businesses conducted commerce. That would soon end. At approximately 8:46 a.m., a large plume of smoke billowed from the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. America was under attack and this was only the first target. The ensuing carnage would soon claim 2,977 American lives in New York City, Washington, DC, and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania (CNN Library). However, victors would soon arise from the rubble.
While the first attack unfolded, President George W. Bush was visiting innocent children at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School. The President had already been briefed on the first attack—which was assumed to be an accident—and issued a statement promising the full support of federal emergency management services. Additionally, he requested that Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, investigate the situation (Bush 127).
Since President Bush had no reason for concern, he continued with his scheduled tour of the school. He soon met one of the school’s teachers—Sandra Kay Daniels—who was leading a classroom reading drill. As President Bush sat in class listening to the students read, Andrew Card—the Chief of Staff—approached him and whispered: “A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack” (Bush 127). After hearing this news, instead of rushing out of the classroom, the President waited for the reading to conclude. As the reality of the attack gripped the nation, he remained calm.
Critics have often questioned the President’s reaction claiming that he should have left the school immediately. However, in the President’s memoir, Decision Points, he explains how his composed response demonstrated America's strength during a time of crisis (Bush 127). Once the facts were known, the President delivered a calm, collected speech which reassured the nation that its financial, political, and military infrastructure was intact. However clever the terrorists may have been, they miscalculated the courage, tenacity, and sacrifice that so many Americans offered in response. Instead of succumbing to fear, we became victors.
Take United Airlines Flight 93, for example. Terrorists had already used three planes to attack the twin towers in New York City and the nation’s Pentagon, but the carnage was not over. Passengers aboard Flight 93 watched as four men—presumably armed with box knives or other discreet weapons—tied red bandannas around their heads (Breslau). As the pilot and co-pilot were relieved of their command, the passengers—who were rounded up towards the back of the plane—formed a plan.
The terrorists had chosen the wrong plane. Among the passengers that day were former law enforcement agents, athletes, and karate experts—all fearless men and women (Breslau). Todd Beamer, a strong former athlete, was one of them. At 9:45 a.m., Todd made a call to GTE Customer Center in...