The nation awoke Tuesday morning to a sickening sight as the news of terrorist attacks on the nation unfolded. Before noon, hijackers with knives commandeered four jetliners, quickly turning the planes from cross continental to suicide flights.
Tuesday at Temple
The scene at Temple was somber as students piled into television lounges and gathered around cars to hear about the chaos in New York City and Arlington, Va. They, like the workers in the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, were headed off to what was supposed to be just another day.
In Mitten Hall, extra chairs were brought in to accommodate students and faculty members who collected in the Owl Cove to watch in horror as people in New York ran from the quickly crumbling Twin Towers.
Students watched in awe as three symbols of American pride were brought down in what President Bush called, in an early morning press conference, “an apparent terrorist attack.”
But it was when officials confirmed the Pennsylvania crash of United Airlines Flight 93 en route from Newark, N.J. to San Francisco, that students who were huddled in Mitten Hall realized the gravity of the situation. Mouths dropped and the room fell silent, except for some gasps and muffled whispers.
“The first thing I thought was ‘Where were my friends and family,'” said senior broadcasting major, Blaine Thompson.
Many others shared Thompson’s fear that loved ones were harmed in the attack. Phone lines, as well as cellular airwaves, were jammed due to the sudden heavy traffic. Students could be seen around campus with phones pressed tightly to their ears. Some students displayed relief, others shock and all attempted to comprehend what had happened.
There were mixed emotions from the Temple community. One student, who wished not to be named out of fear of backlash said the attacks came as a “repercussion of pulling out of the World Conference for race, xenophobia and reparations. What goes around, comes around.”
“The first thing I thought was ‘wake up call.’ If there was ever a wake up call, this is it,” said freshman economics major David Reid.
Government officials have no definite leads as to who is responsible for the attacks, but many are pointing fingers to Saudi exile Osama bin Laden who was previously accused of coordinating the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people and injured 4,000. As a result, America has put a $5 million dollar bounty on his head.
Minutes before the collapse of Seven World Trade Center, the Temple University Muslim Student Association (MSA) released a statement condemning the terrorist attacks stating, “The MSA in no way condones such acts in which civilians are willingly harmed. Such acts are unjustifiable and the MSA joins with the Temple community in calling for swift, but fair justice to those responsible.” The MSA also asked all Muslim medical professionals to offer whatever help they can.
“It shouldn’t happen in this country. We should know when something like this happens. We’re always in everyone else’s business anyway,” said sophomore broadcasting major, Rachael Chaump.
Junior MIP major Anita Rogers feared Philadelphia would be attacked.
“There’s no way to stop it,” she said. Philadelphia lays 93 miles from Manhattan and over 100 miles from the Pentagon in Virginia.
“Philadelphia could be a target, but not likely,” Richard Immerman, head of Temple’s Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy said. He noted that Philadelphia is primarily a city of America’s history. If the terrorists had wanted to attack those symbols then Philadelphia could have been at risk.
Immerman said they were trying to prove that “America is not invulnerable.”
Attacking New York and Washington, symbols of power, got that point across. But Immerman did say that Mayor John Street’s evacuation orders were justified.
After the White House and other federal buildings were evacuated, Street closed all public and parochial schools in Philadelphia. Drexel University and the Franklin Institute also closed their doors. Temple University stayed open, closing only the schools in the immediate vicinity of Center City.
“We are not closing down. There’s no indication there was any threat on Philadelphia or Temple University,” said university President David Adamany.
“I don’t think, as a general rule, unless there’s a general indication [that something will happen] that American institutions should [close down] due to terrorists’ threats.”
University public relations spokesperson Harriet Goodheart agreed with President Adamany stating the events in New York and Arlington “had no effect on the University.”
The second day
An investigation throughout the night led FBI agents to a car in the Logan Airport parking lot. Inside, agents found flight training manuals written in Arabic. One of the hijacked airplanes had taken off from that airport.
Of the many hijackers, two have been identified as brothers. Government officials are following additional leads up and down the East Coast and using the Internet to track an e-mail address. That has resulted in raids on hotels, trains and homes in Florida and the Northeast.
The death toll of Tuesday’s events is expected to reach into the thousands. There are no more expectations for survivors in the Pentagon rubble while hope still remains for those in the WTC. So far, only nine survivors have been pulled from the wreckage.
“The number of casualties will be more than most of us can bear,” said New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in a press conferences on Tuesday. “I have a sense it’s a horrible number of lives lost.” By 9 p.m. Wednesday, 82 bodies had been recovered.
Police and emergency workers were still searching through the rubble for bodies in the early morning. According to CNN, search dogs used to sniff out bodies lost their scent due to the heavy dust. Officials are calling this the worst attack on the nation since the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Early Wednesday, Afghanistan time, missiles were reported in the Afghani capitol of Kabul. Early reports claimed they were American retaliations, but U.S. government officials denied those allegations. Some reports claim they resulted from turmoil already occurring the area.
Afghanistan has been hiding bin Laden for years and they claim that he did not mastermind the attack on New York.
President Bush said in a televised statement, “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” If bin Laden is ultimately attached to the assault, America has made it clear that Afghanistan would be on the wrong side of the retaliation.
While most students were still in bed and others in class, hijacked American Airlines Flight 11, carrying 92 people from Boston to Los Angeles crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. Less than 20 minutes later a second aircraft, United Airlines Flight 175 carrying 65 people, also flying out of Boston, crashed into the south tower of the WTC. Television reports confirmed debris such as office paper falling as far away as Queens.
An hour later, shortly before 10 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 carrying 64 people from Washington to Los Angeles slammed into the Pentagon, the head of the Defense Department, in Arlington, Va. Officials estimated over 200 people died in the Pentagon attack.
Less than an hour after the initial attacks which was seen by horrified bystanders on the street below One World Tower collapsed taking with it an unknown number of lives. Shortly after, Two World Tower collapsed, unable to withstand the structural damage.
Officials and construction managers who originally worked on the buildings said the Twin Towers weren’t built to withstand more than 1500 degrees. The fire inside the WTC was estimated between 1000-2000 degrees. The planes, both intending to fly cross country, were carrying full tanks of approximately 24,000 gallons of fuel, which officials say melted the steel infrastructure of the buildings causing the towers to collapse floor by floor.
Each building stood 110 floors tall and housed over 1,000 businesses and government agencies including the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm Bureau) and a U.S. Customs House.
Minutes following the Pentagon crash, the Federal Aviation Administration made an unprecedented move by halting all commercial flights coming in and out of the country. Planes that were still in the air were forced to land and incoming international flights were redirected to Canada.
Philadelphia International Airport remained closed for general travel on Wednesday as the FAA is still increasing airport security.
The destination of the fourth plane, Flight 93, is still unknown. Government officials say they have “true and credible evidence” that the plane was heading for the White House. The crash site was confirmed as Shanksville, Pa., a town southeast of Pittsburgh. The Boeing 757 was carrying 38 passengers and seven crewmembers. There were no survivors, according to WTAE, a local Pittsburgh TV station. They also believe the airplane that struck the Pentagon may have been planned to hit the White House.
Back in Philadelphia, SEPTA regional rails were shut down from noon to 3:05 p.m. As area businesses, courts and government offices closed early, rush hour on the expressway started early, too. By 5 p.m., the peak of evening rush, the roads were clear and passable.
Both Walt Disney theme parks closed their doors as well as movie studios in California. The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, as well as the Seattle Space Needle, will remain closed indefinitely.
Two major award shows, the Latin Grammys and the Emmys postponed their shows “out of respect for the victims, their families and our fellow citizens,” said Jim Chabin, president of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in an Associated Press report.
As the news spread to the far reaches of the world, there was a general outpour from the world’s leaders. Condemnation of the U.S. attacks came from British and French allies, as well as Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and long-time rival Cuba, according to a Reuters report.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in telegram released Tuesday, “Such an inhuman act must not go unpunished. The entire international community should unite in the struggle against terrorism.”
Countries all over the world have sent their condolences and offered support to the United States.
With additional reporting by Josh Cornfield, Sports Editor and Lauren Dobkin, Photo Editor