By: Rob Floyd
Today marks the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. And while the mantra “Never Forget” still holds true, it seems that once we hit the ten-year mark the events seem less like the raw memories of recent tragedy and more like history. Media coverage of remembrances feel lower with each passing year and private recollections get hazier and hazier.
But we still remember. And in that vein, Daily Lounge has put together a rundown of interesting, yet likely unknown, facts related to the day that changed the world.
Of course, all of these are actual facts and not “9/11 Truth” facts. We’re not here to debate conspiracy theories – if you’re interested in why, we recommend reading this and this.
Osama bin Laden Was Never Indicted For His Role
We know, we said we weren’t going to do anything having to with “truthers” or conspiracy theories, but even though this factoid is often cited by those who claim that it was an “inside job” – it’s still true and still kind of crazy.
“But…But he was on the FBI’s Most Wanted list!” You might say. Yes, but only for his involvement with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. If you were to closely read the FBI’s wanted poster you’d notice that bin Laden wasn’t even wanted for his orchestration of the ‘93 World Trade Center Bombing or the ’00 attack on the USS Cole. Why? Because a certain amount of evidence is needed for the Feds to create a criminal indictment and they only had enough to stick the ’98 embassy bombings to him.
It actually kind of makes sense: by definition international terrorists are pretty clandestine and secretive and we’re sure most witnesses that could tie bin Laden to 9/11 were interrogated/questioned via methods that wouldn’t hold up too well in the court of law. Of course, we’re left to question the logic of conspiracy theorists who believe their government would have no qualms about orchestrating a fake terrorist attack on its own people, but then draws the line at falsely indicting someone for it.
Manhattan Saw the Largest Sea Evacuation…Ever
It’s kind of hard to remember the panic and chaos of that day, but in the immediate aftermath of the towers collapsing, nearly all forms of transportation out of Manhattan were shutdown. Trains, tunnels, and the roadway sections of bridges were all closed as a precautionary measure. That left most New Yorkers with only two options on getting off the island: walking or by boat.
At first it was mostly just a few of the ferry boats giving rides home, but after a call by the Coast Guard – a motley armada of private and commercial boats came to the southern tip of Manhattan to help. In just under nine hours, about half-a-million people were successfully evacuated via the boatlift – the largest such endeavor in history. Below is a short film about the evacuation, narrated by Tom Hanks, which is pretty much impossible to watch with dry eyes.
Authorities Still Don’t Know What Mohammed Atta Was Doing on 9/10.
One of the first and probably most profound questions to arise in the aftermath of September 11th is still a mystery. The day before the attacks, Mohammed Atta, the leader of the hijackers and another hijacker, Abdul-Azzia Al-Omari, drove from Boston to Portland, Maine. They spent the night and then flew to Boston and boarded American Airlines Flight 11, which they hijacked and flew into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Why the one day trip? We still don’t know. There are several theories – it may have been a “fall back position” in case the weather in Boston grounded flights, to see if they were being tailed by government agents, or (scariest option) they may have been meeting with a never-caught co-conspirator. To this day, we still don’t know which theory holds true…and probably never will.
One Company Lost the Majority of Its Employees And Took Care of Their Families
On every anniversary of the attacks, we explore the triumph and the tragedy of that day. But one story that seems to never get enough attention – at least in our opinion – is what happened to the global financial firm of Cantor Fitzgerald. The firm’s former headquarters were based between the 101st and 105th floors of One World Trade Center, which were above the plane’s impact zone. They lost over 2/3rds of their workforce. The story goes that CEO Howard Lutnick, who also lost his brother in the attacks, told a colleague: “We could shut the firm and attend our friends' funerals, or we're going to work harder than we've ever worked before to help their families.”
Over the next five years, the firm kept its word and paid out approximately $180 million to the families of the over 650 staff members that were killed. Oh, and they also covered the family members' healthcare costs. Come on, Hollywood! How have you not turned that into a movie yet?!
Iran Supported the United States After the Attacks
Even though the country is now one the US’s most contentious adversaries on the world stage with a long and prickly anti-American history, Iran joined the international wave of goodwill and support for the United States. It’s been seemingly forgotten in the decade since, but immediately after the attacks the people of Iran massed in spontaneous displays of mourning and candlelight vigils for Americans killed by the terrorists. What would eventually become one third of the “Axis of Evil” even helped American forces fight al Qaeda in the early days of the war on terror. Yeah….crazy, right?
[Pic via Flickr - Rebecca Wilson]