One Year After Sept. 11

Last year on September eleventh, more than three-thousand people were killed in terrorist attacks on the United States. It was the worst terrorist attack in American history. I'm Mary Tillotson. And I'm Bob Doughty. The United States after the terrorist attacks is our report today on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.

Last September eleventh, Islamist terrorists hijacked two passenger airplanes and flew them into the World Trade Center in New York City. The two giant buildings were destroyed. Another hijacked plane struck and damaged the Defense Department headquarters near Washington, D.C. Still another hijacked plane crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The victims included Americans of many races and religions. Many foreign citizens also died in the attacks.

Now, a year later, some Americans say life seems normal again. Others say the United States will never be the same again.

Religious services and other programs will observe the anniversary throughout the nation. White House officials helped organize a Concert for America. It will be broadcast on television Wednesday. Many Americans will watch other television programs about the attacks. However, other Americans say they will not observe the anniversary. They say they can best honor the victims by making life as normal as possible.

Now, we share some memories of what America was like after September eleventh, two-thousand-one.

New York City changed forever that day. The attacks destroyed a huge part of the financial center of the city. Everyone seemed to know someone who died in the attacks. A young financial worker says his office will always seem empty because so many workers were killed.

Again and again, Americans heard the sounds of bagpipes as musicians played "Amazing Grace." The song honored the memory of three-hundred-forty-three firefighters and twenty-three police officers. They died trying to save people in the World Trade Center. The song also honors more than two-thousand-four-hundred civilians who did not escape.

Near Washington, DC, people left flowers and messages near one heavily damaged wall of the Defense Department headquarters. One hundred-eighty-four military service members and civilians died there.

In both target areas, rescue teams worked day and night to recover people and bodies from the wreckage. Some survivors had terrible burns and crushing injuries. No one survived the plane crash in Pennsylvania.

After the attacks, many Americans prayed. They crowded into Christian churches, Jewish temples and Islamic mosques. A Protestant clergyman in the state of Maryland said he had never before seen so many people at services.

People across America experienced great shock, fear, sadness and loss. They also felt a renewed love for their country. They put American flags on their houses, cars and businesses. And they sang patriotic songs like "God Bless America."

For days after the attacks, most planes stopped flying. Only military aircraft could be seen in the air. When normal flights began again, many people decided not to travel by air because they were afraid. The airline and travel industries suffered. Thousands of hotel workers and others lost their jobs. Many other businesses suffered as well. Financial markets showed major losses.

Thousands of Islamic American citizens, other Arabs and people from Middle Eastern countries had no connection with terrorism. But many reported being insulted or attacked. Some lost their jobs.

In October, the United States began a war against terrorism in Afghanistan. The United States led a coalition against the terrorists and their supporters. The United States defeated the Taleban rulers in Afghanistan and removed them from power. It also captured a number of Taleban fighters and al-Qaida terrorists.

The United States government also seized more than five-hundred foreign citizens and held them in secret. Most of these people had violated immigration laws. No terrorism charges were brought against them. Human rights activists and some legal experts protested the treatment of the prisoners. The activists said holding people in secret without trial violates the United States Constitution.

Later, there was some criticism that government agencies did not cooperate to gather intelligence that might have prevented the terrorist attacks. President Bush created a new Office of Homeland Security. Its job is to strengthen preparations and defenses against terrorism.

As time passed, the public learned more about the forty civilian passengers on the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. The passengers found out about the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. They were killed trying to prevent their plane from crashing into another important building.

One of them called out "Let's roll!" as they tried to regain control of the plane from the terrorists. Americans soon made "Let's roll!" a common expression.

One year later, the nation has taken many steps toward recovery. Still, the events of September eleventh strongly influence our lives. Many Americans called to military service have returned to civilian life. A Marine Corps pilot who flew supply planes in the Middle East says home means more to him now than ever before.

Some Americans whose family members were killed in the attacks are taking legal action. They are trying to recover financial damages from individuals and banks they believe share responsibility for the terrorist attacks. A few families have accepted money from the United States government in settlement for the loss of loved ones.

Workers completed the cleanup of the area where the World Trade Center stood in May. Every day, almost thirty-thousand people visit the area to see where the attack took place and to honor those who died there.

Design experts from around the world have proposed plans for new buildings in the area. There will be a memorial to the victims as well as a business center.

Mental health experts across the nation have been helping people suffering from sadness and fear after the attacks. Family members of victims have attended meetings of support groups to help them recover from their loss.

Many World Trade Center victims lived in Rockville Centre, New York. A family support center there has a special wall for prayers and messages. Children who lost a parent can write their thoughts and place them on the wall.

Many people around the country were not directly affected by the tragedy. Still, they say their lives have changed. They say they now spend less time working and more time with their families. They also say they telephone family members in other cities more often.

The American economy is showing signs of recovery. However, many people have lost savings for their old age. A retired clergyman in the state of Florida says he and his wife are worried about their economic future. The travel industry and related businesses are still having problems. Many Americans still are driving cars for short trips instead of flying.

People who do fly say it is much more difficult because of increased security at airports. A businesswoman from California must fly often as part of her job. She says she dislikes waiting in security lines that take much longer than they did before September eleventh.

For many Americans, daily life continues much as it did before the attacks. But people often ask each other where they were on September eleventh.

Marie Reeder lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She knows exactly what she was doing on that day. She was celebrating her eighty-second birthday with family members. Her birthday had always been a happy event. This year, however, it will not be the same. Marie Reeder will celebrate her birthday. But she will also think about what happened to America on September eleventh, two-thousand-one.

This program was written by Jerilyn Watson. It was produced by George Grow. I'm Bob Doughty. And I'm Mary Tillotson. Join us again next week for another report about life in the United States on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.