The casualties from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 were diverse in many ways. The deaths represented most U.S. states as well as 77 countries, a host of occupations, and a wide array of personal backgrounds.
A total of 2,977 individuals lost their lives on that morning, including 2,606 at the World Trade Center, 265 on the four planes involved, and 125 at the Pentagon. The death total excludes the 19 hijackers.
It is believed that nine of the civilian deaths were residents of Illinois. Over 6,000 were injured in the incidents.
About 2,605 were U.S. citizens, with 372 citizens of other nations, not including the hijackers. An estimated 344 of the deaths were firefighters, while another 72 were law enforcement officers.
At the World Trade Center, the dead included 2,192 civilians and 343 firemen. The 71 law enforcement officers who died at the site hailed from several agencies, including the New York City Police Department, the Port Authority Police Department, and others. Eight EMTs and paramedics were among the lost. Some 55 military personnel died at the Pentagon.
Overall, the dead at the WTC ranged in age from 18-79, with a total of 1,402 in the North Tower.
The staffs of some firms in the World Trade Center were decimated by the catastrophe. Cantor Fitzgerald, an investment bank on Floors 101 to 105 of the North Tower, lost 658 of its 960 New York City staff members and struggled to recover, both financially and emotionally.
Insurance firm Marsh McLennan, on Floors 93 to 100 of the North Tower, suffered the loss of 295 employees, while Aon, a worldwide financial concern with offices on eight floors of the South Tower, lost 175 workers.
A report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in August 2002 – which only studied the 2,726 death certificates filed to that date – found that 75.8% of the victims were white, 9.5% were Hispanic, 7.9% were African-American, and 6.5% were Asian or Pacific Islander.
A total of 77.1% of victims were male, with 22.9% female. Education levels ranged from 67.4 with college or more, 12.1% with some college, and 18.9% with high school. Eleven victims had less than a high school degree.
In addition, there were thousands of other long-term effects. The Cancer Centers of America reports that over 2,000 first responders and Ground Zero workers have lost their lives to a multitude of illnesses, including cancer, due to the high levels of toxic dust from the ruins of the sites.
A Mount Sinai study of police officers and recovery workers revealed higher-than-normal risks of cancer, particularly leukemia, thyroid cancer and prostate cancer. Skin cancer is believed to be another hazard for rescue and recovery workers.
The attack took place on a clear morning in New York, as the temperature was 68 degrees in Central Park and 72 at LaGuardia International Airport around the time of the first crash into the World Trade Center
The first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 from Boston to Los Angeles, struck the North Tower near the 80th floor at 8:46 a.m. EDT. Seventeen minutes later, United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 767 from Boston to Los Angeles, smashed into the South Tower near the 60th floor. The South Tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m. EDT, while the North Tower fell at 10:28 a.m. EDT.
About 9:37 a.m. EDT, American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757 from Washington to Los Angeles, dove into the west side of the Pentagon, killing all 64 aboard as well as the 125 deaths on the ground. The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 from Newark to San Francisco, crashed into the ground near Shanksville, Pennsylvvania, about 10:03 a.m. EDT, killing all 44 on board.
The September 11 attacks remain among the deadliest days in American history. By comparison, 2,403 Americans were killed at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The National Park Service reports an estimated 3,650 battlefield deaths combined from North and South at the Civil War clash at Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862.
The death toll of the 9/11 attacks was finally exceeded by the 3,080 deaths from COVID-19 on Dec. 9, 2020. That record was broken numerous times afterward, including in January 2021, when an average of 3,100 Americans died from the pandemic each day that month.
Tom Emery is a freelance writer and historical researcher from Carlinville, Ill. He may be reached at 217-710-8392 or firstname.lastname@example.org.