Looking back on September 11, 2001, is just as shocking and painful today as it was 19 years ago. It is good for Americans to remember, to never forget the assault on our country and the lives that were lost that day — because that day changed America forever.
Many survivors of the attack on New York still struggle with loss and ill health because of that day. The dust created by the collapse of the World Trade Center towers permanently harmed anyone that breathed it in. COVID-19 is especially hard on those survivors and dozens of them have died as the coronavirus attacks their already fragile lungs.
Hundreds of thousands of people tried to flee Manhattan when the towers came down, but they could not use the subways or cross the bridges to get off that island. They fled to the southern end of the island, where they found ferries and other boats to help them escape the devastation.
Many unsung heroes worked that day to boatlift half a million people off the island of Manhattan. Tugboats, ferries, police vessels, private vessels, and others. The Coast Guard put out a call for help and ordinary Americans responded. According to INSH:
Under the watchful gaze of the Statue of Liberty, over 150 ferries, tugs, Coast Guard ships and privately owned recreational boats worked together to shuttle half a million people to Staten Island, Ellis Island and New Jersey.
The 9/11 boatlift moved more people than the Miracle at Dunkirk in WWII which saved over 330,000 men and did it in just none hours.
U.S. Coast Guard Admiral James Loy, Commandant at the time of the 9/11 attacks during an interview with Coast Guard Compass described the incredible effort this way:
“With the New York Harbor challenges of 9/11 itself where we took 500,000 people off the south end of Manhattan to safety and that was just the Coast Guard and the whole maritime community of the Port of New York and New Jersey, standing up and recognizing what needed to be done.”
“We grabbed the Staten Island Ferry, the tour boat that goes around the Statue of Liberty and anything else that floated. And at the same time, we had rallied the wherewithal to take a half a million people, scared and frightened to death, through the Battery and off the southern tip of Manhattan. That’s an extraordinary story.”
The New York maritime community also brought first responders to Manhattan to help with the rescue effort and fire fighting at the World Trade Center, and fire-boats helped with the fires, too.
9/11 showcased ordinary Americans coming together to do extraordinary things in the face of historic tragedy. The video below is an inspiring story of Americans working together and is a poignant reminder of 9/11.