#TBT: September 12, 2001

Eighteen years ago today, desperate family members and friends searched for their loved ones in New York while a stunned nation reeled after the 9/11 attacks.

The day after the tragedy

Eighteen years have passed since the earth shattering attacks of September 11, 2001. And while most remember with unsettling clarity where one was when the world heard that hijacked planes had crashed into the World Trade Center and later, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, killing nearly 3,000 people, it might be the next day — September 12, 2001 — that actually marked the beginning of a new era, one in which full-body scans at the airport, color-coded threat levels, slow-burn wars that never really end, and an undercurrent of fear running beneath the conventions of life became the norm.

On September 12, many Americans felt trapped in a confused and shocking state of limbo. School was canceled. Few people went to work. Many were stuck. Some literally, as planes were grounded, subways and trains running minimally if not canceled altogether, and many streets clogged with vehicles. Others emotionally, trapped between grief, shock, fear, and anger. Almost two decades after the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil, the nation is still grappling with the aftermath at ground zero, in Congress and beyond. The attacks' aftermath is visible from airport security checkpoints to Afghanistan. A rocket exploded at the U.S. embassy as the anniversary began in Afghanistan, where a post-9/11 invasion has become America's longest war.

There has also been growing awareness in recent years of the suffering of another group of people tied to the tragedy: firefighters, police and others who died or fell ill after exposure to the wreckage and the toxins unleashed in it. After years of legislative gridlock, dwindling money in the fund and fervent activism by ailing first responders and their advocates, Congress this summer made sure the fund won't run dry. Trump, a Republican and a New Yorker who was in the city on 9/11, signed the measure in July. The sick gained new recognition this year at the memorial plaza at ground zero, where the new 9/11 Memorial Glade was dedicated in the Spring of 2019.