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AMERICAN MOSAIC – September 21, 2001: Special on Terrorist Attack - 2001-09-20


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

Our program today is a special one. We tell about the recent terrorist attack against the United States. We answer a listener’s question about the two buildings in New York City that were called the World Trade Center. We read some of the letters from listeners around the world who have offered their sympathy for the victims in New York and Washington, D-C.

And we play music that tells how most Americans feel about their country.


On Tuesday, September eleventh, many things changed forever in the United States. Terrorists hijacked four civilian passenger aircraft. All were flights from the eastern United States to California.

Two of the aircraft turned away from their planned flights and flew to New York City. It is believed the terrorists were flying both planes.

At Eight-Forty-Five in the morning, New York time, one of the planes crashed into the north building of the World Trade Center. The aircraft tore a huge hole in the building. The aircraft fuel immediately caused a huge fire.

At three minutes after Nine-o-clock, the second hijacked airliner crashed into the south building of the World Trade Center and exploded. Both buildings were burning.

Forty minutes later, a third hijacked aircraft crashed into the Defense Department Building called the Pentagon near Washington D-C. Here too, airplane fuel caused a huge fire.

About ten-o-clock in New York, the south building of the World Trade Center fell down. About twenty-five minutes later, the north building fell down.

Twenty minutes later, police in the eastern state of Pennsylvania confirmed that a fourth hijacked aircraft had crashed. There were no survivors. Later, experts said the passengers on this flight may have fought with the terrorists and caused the crash, or caused the terrorists to crash the plane. The experts believe this fourth aircraft was being flown to a target in Washington D-C. The brave actions of the passengers on this flight may have saved hundreds if not thousands of other lives.

Officials still do not know how many innocent people were killed in this terrorist attack. However, they believe now that the number of people on the airplanes and those who died in the buildings is more than five-thousand.


Our listener question this week comes from Mongolia. A. Amartuya expressed sadness for the attack and asked us to explain what the World Trade Center was.

The World Trade Center in New York was a group of buildings that opened in Nineteen-Seventy-Three. It occupied six and one-half hectares of land. Its two largest buildings were more than four-hundred-ten meters tall. They once were the tallest buildings in the world.

About fifty-thousand people worked each day in the World Trade Center. They worked at the headquarters offices of many large financial companies. Some of the companies had more than one-thousand employees working in their World Trade Center offices. Many of these financial companies have other offices in the major cities of the world.

The World Trade Center had several eating places. There was a large day care center for children whose parents worked in the building. There was a huge area of stores under the offices. People could buy food, clothing, newspapers, magazines and many other products.

The World Trade Center was built to survive severe weather conditions, such as winds from large ocean storms. It was built to survive serious fires. The two buildings survived when they were hit by the large passenger aircraft traveling at about three-hundred kilometers an hour.

However, experts said they could not survive the thousands of liters of airplane fuel that caused extremely hot fires. The fires weakened the steel that supported the buildings. The top of each building began to fall into the next lower part. Each part fell into the next until the huge buildings were no more.


When a terrible event like this takes place in the world it is not unusual for the leaders of many countries to express sadness or to offer aid. The events of September Eleventh were no different. Within hours, world leaders offered expressions of shock, anger and sympathy. These included the leaders of governments that often have political differences with the United States.

Shock, anger and sadness were also expressed by many listeners who are part of the Special English family. They sent computer e-mail messages to us. I would like to share a few of these wonderful letters with you.

A listener in Sweden spoke for many people when he wrote: “Let me express my sympathy for you and your country after this terrible terrorist attack. I really hope the guilty people will be found and brought to justice.”

Four members of a VOA listeners club in Tajikistan wrote: “Please accept our deep feelings and condolences. We are with you, dear friends.”

A woman in Egypt sent this message: “I am Egyptian and Muslim. I want to say that all Egyptians – Muslims, Christians and Jews – condemn this massacre.”

A man from Brazil wrote:” I am deeply sad and shocked with these terrible terrorist attacks suffered by the U-S-A. These huge attacks hit not only the Americans but all humankind.”

This message came from two listeners in Somalia: “Your many listeners in Mogadishu join us in offering. . . condolence to you, all the staff of the VOA and all Americans. We hope this kind of attack will not happen again.”

And from China, a listener wrote: “I am a plain Chinese citizen. I deeply condemn the evil actions against American civilians. Please accept my sincere sympathy to the victims. Let us pray for all the people who were killed in the tragedy. God bless humankind.”

These were only a few of the many messages we have received at Special English. We would like to say “thank you” for the many kind letters from our listening family.


Each week, American Mosaic plays music from a new album of a popular musician, songs that have won awards or music from a show on Broadway.

This week we would like to play only one song. Ray Charles sings it. We chose this song because Mister Charles almost sings it in Special English. He makes it very easy to follow the words. We also like the idea of the song. We hope you do, too. Here is Ray Charles with “America the Beautiful.”


This is Doug Johnson. Thank you for joining us today for this special American Mosaic program. I hope you will join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written and produced by Paul Thompson. Our studio engineer was Vasilij Volaric.