21 years ago, the tragic attack on the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon left Americans stunned and shocked. On its anniversary, citizens take the day to commemorate heroes who acted in bravery and those who lost their lives in the senseless act of terrorism. Today, we want to share some facts to consider on this day of remembrance.

1. The World Trade Center

Before the attacks, the WTC hosted many employees who went to work every weekday. The Twin Towers normally had 50,000 workers and 40,000 additional visitors. During the attacks, over 3,000 people passed away, many of whom were first responders who arrived on the scene to save civilian lives.

2. Dangerous cleanup

The horrible terrorist attacks cost thousands of lives and resulted in dangerous wreckage that trapped even more people. The rescue crews were able to save 18 individuals from the ruins, which, by expert estimations, weighed 1.8 million pounds. The recovery process lasted nine months and ended on May 30, 2002.

The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

3. Terrible loss of life

Most people know the attacks on the WTC resulted in the tragic loss of life, but the act of terrorism marked an awful day for another reason as well. It was the largest loss of life by a foreign attack on American soil.

4. The catalyst of change

The horrific event changed the ways that Americans saw security and safety. In fact, in 2001, 50% of Americans reported to Pew Research that they wanted to see America change in a serious way. Here are some of the biggest policy changes implemented after the attacks:

  • Created new institutions like the Department of Homeland Security, Directorate of National Intelligence, and National Counterterrorism Center.
  • Increased resources for intelligence programs in the US.
  • Increased air travel security.
  • Urged leaders to increase counterterrorism partnerships across the globe.

After the attacks, American leaders took a more serious approach to homeland security and preventing terrorism on American soil.

5. Impact on public opinion

The atrocious event shocked American citizens and completely altered public perception and opinion. The impacts of this can be seen in the increased patriotic sentiment across the country. Pew Research found that 79% of adults "displayed an American flag" in 2001. Political divides shrunk as people shared a sense of loss and tragedy, with about 60% of adults reporting that they trusted in the federal government in October of 2001. This is a high that was unseen in the previous 30 years and has not been met since.

The events of 9/11 changed the course of American history and deserve to be remembered with respect. Each year the attacks grow further away, but the memory of the day will not be forgotten. Take the time for a brief moment of respectful silence or learn more about the events to honor those who were lost.