Memorial ceremonies are being held across America today, 16 years after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. Americans are honoring the thousands who were killed and the police, firefighters and other rescuers who died trying to save them.
The assault was carried out by the al Qaeda terrorist group, a radical Islamic organization based in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nineteen al Qaeda members hijacked four U.S. passenger planes on September 11, 2001. They crashed two of the planes into the Twin Towers, the skyscraper that formed the World Trade Center in New York City, both of the massive buildings collapse soon afterward.
A third plane was crashed in Washington, D.C. It hit the Pentagon. The headquarters of the U.S. Defense Department and a fourth flight crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, reportedly after its passengers and crew tried to take back control of the plane.
Two thousand nine hundred and seventy-seven people were killed in the September 11th attacks, and just over a week later, U.S. President George W. Bush declared a war on terror.
The southeast Asian country of Afghanistan was giving al Qaeda a place to live and train at that time. And on October 7, 2001, after Afghanistan's Taliban rulers refused to turn over al Qaeda's leader to the United States, America led attacks against targets in Afghanistan. The conflict there continues today.