As Americans and the world watched, two jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York City while another crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The colossal Twin Towers collapsed a short time later. Passengers on board the fourth airplane, Flight 93, averted even more destruction by trying to regain control of their airplane. As a result, the hijackers downed it in a field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Flight 93’s intended target was likely either the White House or the United States Capitol.
When President George W. Bush first visited New York City three days after the attacks, he was astonished by the horror of the scene: “As we approached Ground Zero, I felt like I was entering a nightmare. There was little light. Smoke hung in the air mixed with suspended particles of debris, creating an eerie gray curtain…They had hit us harder than I comprehended.” (Decision Points, p. 148)
After departing Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, President George W. Bush confers with Vice President Dick Cheney from Air Force One, September 11, 2001, during the flight to Andrews Air Force Base.
Despite the tragic loss of life and destruction, the nation drew strength and unity. More than a decade after the terrorist attacks, the effects of September 11th have been complex and far-reaching; however, President Bush’s words from his national address given from the Oval Office that evening hold true: “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”
The following carefully selected resources, some of which are located at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, provide further information about the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.
Resources for the Public
Featured Artifact: 9/11 Bullhorn
President George W. Bush used this bullhorn as he addressed a crowd of first responders at Ground Zero in New York City on September 14th saying: “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear from all of us soon.”
The World Reacts Flip Book
In the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, people from around the world united and voiced their sympathy and support for the United States. The World Reacts Flip Book contains a small sample of condolence materials from citizens of over 75 countries.
September 11, 2001 Photo Gallery
This gallery consists of 60 digital photographs housed in the Library’s audiovisual collection and taken from September 11, 2001 through October 30, 2001. These photographs focus on the terrorist attacks and the President’s leadership during that terrible time in the nation’s history.
The National September 11th Memorial Museum
The National September 11th Memorial Museum website offers resources of minute detail, such as the Interactive 9/11 Timeline as well as moving personal stories from the Museum’s Oral History Collection.
September 11, 2001, Documentary Project
The Library of Congress’ September 11, 2001 Documentary Project houses a range of audiovisual materials as well as written accounts from the day and the resulting responses to the attacks.
Voices of 9/11
Jointly maintained by the New York Historical Society and the September 11th Digital Archive, this collection contains over 500 videos of personal responses to the terrorist attacks, recorded in New York City, Washington, DC, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
George W. Bush Library and Museum Staff Narratives
For the tenth anniversary in 2011, several staff members of the Library wrote a series of blog posts about their memories of September 11, 2001 and what it means to them to preserve some of the documents, artifacts, and audiovisual materials from that momentous day.
As inspiration for fellow rescue workers searching through debris, firefighters unfurl a large American flag over the scarred stone of the Pentagon, September 12, 2001, in Arlington, Virginia, one day after terrorist attacks on the country.
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Resources for Researchers
Sneak Peek Document Gallery
The Library’s Sneak Peek Document Gallery contains dozens of documents from President George W. Bush’s time in the White House, including several related to September 11th, such as a note from the President Bush written on the day that the last of the debris was removed from Ground Zero and the proclamation declaring a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance.
The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States
The National Commission on the Terrorist Attacks upon the United States released its full report on July 22, 2004. That report, as well as staff monographs and statements, is available on the Commission’s archived website.
The National Archives 9/11 Commission Records
The National Archives and Records Administration maintains the records of the 9/11 Commission. Currently 35% of the Commission’s documents are available to the public.
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Resources for Teachers
The National September 11th Memorial Museum Teach + Learn
The National September 11th Memorial Museum’s Teach + Learn page has a wealth of resources for teachers, including guides, ideas about how to talk to students, answers to common questions, and an archive of webcasts all addressing the topic.
September 11: Bearing Witness to History
The National Museum for American History selected 50 objects recovered shortly after the attacks on September 11th from New York City, Arlington, Virginia, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The project’s website includes photographs of those objects as well as blog posts with helpful information for teachers.
Teaching and Learning about September 11th with The New York Times
In its wide-ranging September 11th guide for teachers, the New York Times has collected articles from its own archives and developed key questions to discuss with students as well as topic guides and lesson plans for teachers all relating to the terrorist attacks and the global war on terror.
Department of Education 9/11 Materials for Teachers
The Department of Education has collected materials from federal grantees and agencies commemorating the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001.
America Responds Classroom Resources
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has created lesson plans to assist teachers in discussing the events of September 11th and its related topics with their students.
What Happened on 9/11 and How to Talk to Your Students About the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance
Scholastic News Online has two brief guides that help teachers explain September 11th and the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance to students.
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Resources for Kids
Mrs. Bush's Letters to Students Following Terrorist Attacks
On September 12, 2001, Mrs. Bush wrote a letters to elementary, middle, and high school students offering comfort and guidance in the wake of the attacks. Versions of these letters are available on the Archived White House Website.
09/11/2001: The Day That Changed America
Scholastic Newsline guide for students explains the September 11th attacks through a series of articles and activities regarding the event and its aftermath.
CNN Special Report: Day of Terror
Older students can find a chronology, personal accounts, and galleries on this CNN Special Report page.
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Photographs from September 11, 2001
This gallery consists of 60 photographs taken from September 11, 2001 through October 30, 2001. These photos focus on the 9/11 terrorist attacks and President George W. Bush's leadership during that terrible time in our nation's history.
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Digitized Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests
Many FOIA requests have been processed and digitized related to the events of September 11th. View these requests on the Digital Library.
- 2014-0039-F - Emails Sent or Received by Assistants to the President on September 11, 2001
- 2014-0041-F - Drafts of President George W. Bush’s Remarks at the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance on September 14, 2001
- 2014-0074-F - Records on the Communication with Leaders of Afghanistan between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2001
- 2014-0077-F - Audio and Video Recordings of Meetings with President George W. Bush, and Transcripts of Such Meetings, from September 11-20, 2001
- 2014-0110-F - All Photographs of George W. Bush alone or with Andrew Card on September 11, 2001
- 2014-0158-F - Records for George W. Bush, Laura Bush, Joshua Bolten, Andrew Card, Ari Fleischer, Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Joe Hagin, and Condoleezza Rice from September 11, 2001
- 2014-0412-F - Records Mentioning Pakistan's Response to the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center Attacks
- 2014-0422-F - The Guest List and Agenda for a Meeting President George W. Bush was to have with Muslim Leaders of September 11, 2001
- 2014-0508-F - Condoleezza Rice's cancelled speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies on September 11, 2001
- 2016-0137-F - Records on President George W. Bush’s Address to the Nation on the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001
- 2016-0138-F - Speech Drafts of President George W. Bush's Address to Congress on September 20, 2001
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