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086 What major event happened on September 11, 2001 in the United States?

86. What major event happened on September 11, 2001 in the United States?
Terrorists attacked the United States.

Terrorism (or violence that is used against people to try to scare them) used to be something that Americans only read about in the newspaper. They knew that terrorists were dangerous (or could hurt them), but it didn’t really happen in the United States so it didn’t affect their daily life. But on September 11, 2001, all of that changed and terrorism hit home, starting to affect Americans in their own country.

On that day, men affiliated with (or connected to) a terrorist group called al-Qaeda hijacked four planes, taking control of them and changing their route (or the place that they were going to fly to). Two of the planes crashed into (or hit) the World Trade Center Towers, two very tall buildings, in New York City. The planes exploded (or blew into many pieces) and caused a lot of damage (or broken and ruined things) in the buildings. Many people died on impact (or at the moment when the planes hit the buildings), but many more people died when the buildings collapsed (or fell down) a little while later.

The third plane was flown into the Pentagon, which is a large building near Washington, DC that is the headquarters (or most important building) for the U.S.
military. The fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, a state that’s also in the northeastern part of the country. Many people think that the hijackers had wanted to crash that plane into the White House where the president lives, but the people on the plane stopped them from doing that.

Almost 3,000 people died in the terrorist attacks that day. The attacks had a big effect on the economy, too. Many businesses in the World Trade Center and nearby buildings had to close because they had too much damage and they had lost too many employees. All airplanes were grounded, meaning that they were not allowed to fly right after the attacks. The stock market (or the place where ownership in companies is bought and sold) was closed for one week.

But the biggest change was that Americans no longer felt safe. They felt vulnerable to terrorists, knowing the terrorists could hurt them at any time. The United States now has many new laws for fighting terrorism, but everyone knows that another attack could happen anywhere and at any time. In that way, the attacks on September 11, 2001 have changed life in the United States forever.


terrorism – violence that is used against people to try to scare them
* During the period of terrorism, many apartment buildings were destroyed by bombs.

to hit home – to understand that something affects one's own life personally, and doesn't happen only to other people or in other places
* The difficulty of losing a loved one really hit home for James when his sister died.

to hijack – to take control of a plane and change its flight plan to try to get something that one wants, usually from a government
* The men hijacked the plane and said that they wanted $4 million.

route – the way that one plans to go from one place to another; the path followed by a car, plane, bus, or train
* This bus route goes through northwest Springfield and passes by the library.

to crash into (something) – to hit something while one is in motion
* When the driver fell asleep, her car crashed into a tree.

on impact – at the moment when something hits something else
* New cars have airbags that are designed to open immediately on impact when there is an accident.

to collapse – to fall down quickly, usually because something is weak and unstable
* Georgette collapsed and fell to the ground when she heard the bad news.

grounded – not allowed to fly for a period of time
* That plane has been grounded because it's too old and isn't safe to fly anymore.

stock market – the place where ownership in companies is bought and sold as a way to make money
* Do you invest money in the stock market or do you keep your money in a bank account?

vulnerable – weak and feeling that one can be hurt easily by other people
* He felt very vulnerable after his girlfriend ended their relationship.