When tragedy struck the United States in unprecedented proportions on September 11, 2001, the heroes that emerged were countless. All are worth remembering, honoring, and paying tribute to.
But on that day, among the masses of ordinary humans who rose to the occasion and went well above and beyond the call of duty when their fellow humans were in grave danger, many women stand out as stunning examples of heroism in the face of the worst terror attack we've ever seen on our own soil. Let's take a moment to remember those exceptionally brave women.
1. Flight Attendants Betty Ong and Amy Sweeney
These women used crew telephones to calmly relay information that eventually helped the government determine that al Qaeda was responsible for the tragedy, according to Business Insider.
"Okay, my name is Betty Ong. I’m number 3 on Flight 11. And the cockpit is not answering their phone, and there’s somebody stabbed in business class, and there’s — we can’t breathe in business class. Somebody’s got mace or something.”
They relayed the seat numbers of the hijackers, allowing American Airlines to ascertain the names, addresses and other information on the hijackers 20 minutes before the plane crashed into the tower.
2. NYPD Police Officer Moira Smith
She prevented mass hysteria by "directing traffic" with a flashlight on the ground floor of World Trade Center Tower Two, according to Girls' Globe. The prevention of mass hysteria in a situation that practically begs for dissolving into chaos is crucial to saving lives and keeping hope alive even as the flames and heavy smoke did their best to extinguish any semblance of it.
3. Female Rescue Workers at Ground Zero
There were thousands of firefighters, police officers, first responders and more that rushed to help in rescue and recovery as the terrifying chapter of history unfolded, according to Huffington Post. Among those great heroes were handfuls of women who performed the same feats of heroism that the men to their left and right performed. They saved lives, helped people even as they were dying.
“I don’t think that there was any task that was performed down there by men that was not performed by women.” Soledad O'Brien said. “No, I don’t think that everyone knows that.”
To all the women who worked to save lives, who lost their own, and who played any part in the necessary coming together of Americans everywhere in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, we thank you.
4. Fighter Pilot Heather Penney
She flew out on what was, from the start, essentially a suicide mission. Unarmed, she and another fighter pilot set off to stop Flight 93 headed for Washington, D.C. There wasn't enough time to arm the planes with missiles, so she was tasked with using her plane as the weapon. Though she never completed the mission thanks to the brave passengers who took back the plane, she was fully prepared to pay the necessary price to fight for the greater good, according to PopSugar.
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