Heroes of 9/11 understood the sanctity of America’s symbols

[The terrorist’s] objective was to crash his airliner into symbols of the American Republic, the Capitol or the White House. He was defeated by the alerted, unarmed passengers of United 93.



September 10, 2021 - 3:20 PM

Protesters storm the Capitol and halt a joint session of the 117th Congress on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

A symbol is anything that stands for, or represents, something else. Symbols encourage people to go beyond the original purpose and create a connection that can cross psychological boundaries, cultures or politics. Anything can be a symbol, even a building or part of a building. Symbols of sacred American institutions were violated on both Sept. 11, 2001, and Jan. 6 of this year. In a symbolic sense, the Jan. 6 insurrectionists succeeded where the hijackers failed when it comes to the goal of attacking and interrupting the workings of Congress.

Even if the 9/11 hijackers had succeeded in reaching the Capitol or the White House, as was the apparent mission of the terrorists aboard Flight 93, American democracy would have been rattled to its core, but it would have survived. The Jan. 6 mob was able to penetrate the walls of the Capitol, violate the people’s house and disrupt the course of democracy, albeit for a short time.

Our democracy withstood the attack but not without suffering a major blow.

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