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Six months later: A nation and a world, changed

The north tower in the World Trade Center complex collapses.  

(CNN) -- As the sun rose over the United States on September 11, 2001, no one could have imagined the terror that would unfold that day, and how it would transform the nation and the world.

The images from what began as a breezy, sun-drenched late summer day are now etched in history: flames and smoke, shattered glass and twisted steel, blood and tears.

Thousands of New Yorkers expecting just another day at work were instead faced with the unimaginable sight of the World Trade Center towers collapsing as they ran for their lives.

In northern Virginia, smoke and fire poured from a gaping hole in the headquarters of the U.S. military, while a commercial jet slammed into a field in rural Pennsylvania.

Do you feel safer today than you did before September 11?

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 •  America remembers
 •  The day the world changed
 •  Unanswered questions remain
 •  Hope in Kabul
 •  Bush: World stirred to action
 •  Giuliani looks back
 •  In-Depth: September 11: A Memorial
 •  In-Depth: War Against Terror
 •  In-Depth: Day of Terror
 •  People in the News: WTC survivors
 • Can we stop the next attack?
 •  3D animation: Tribute in Light
 •  Gallery: Images of September 11
 •  Gallery: Remembering 9/11
 •  Quotes: 9/11 remembered
 •  Lighting the Towers
 •  Maps and Interactives Index

The terrorist attacks left people around the globe stunned and saddened. And while, for many, the shock still has not worn off, it did not take long for people to respond.

Within minutes, the definition of "hero" had been redefined by the firefighters and police officers who gave their lives at Ground Zero.

Within hours, friends and strangers alike initiated an outpouring of financial, material and emotional support for survivors and families of the victims.

Within weeks, the men and women of the U.S. military were mobilized into action, joined by a vast coalition of nations in the first phase of a worldwide war on terrorism.

One thing was clear in the aftermath of September 11: The world would never quite be the same.

War against terror

  • Less than a month after the attacks, the United States built a broad coalition of nations pledging military, logistical and financial support, and declared war on terrorism around the world. On October 7, U.S. and British forces launched the first military strikes targeting Afghanistan's ruling Taliban regime for harboring Osama bin Laden, the fugitive Saudi financier suspected of masterminding the September 11 attacks. (Full story)
  • Within two months, Northern Alliance and allied forces, supported by intense U.S. airstrikes, routed Taliban forces throughout Afghanistan. The Taliban's leadership, meanwhile, went on the run, fleeing Kandahar, their political and spiritual stronghold in southern Afghanistan. (Full story)
  • Plane
    A warplane takes off from the USS Carl Vinson on October 8, the second day of the U.S.-led campaign.  

  • With the Taliban no longer in control, the allied military effort assumed a greater presence on the ground. U.S.-led forces fanned out in search bin Laden, focusing on the mountains and caves of eastern Afghanistan. While his whereabouts -- and whether he was even still alive -- remained uncertain, bin Laden continued to be seen and heard through numerous videotapes that surface in Afghanistan, including one in which bin Laden gave clear indications he was involved in planning September 11. (Full story)
  • Afghan leaders and citizens meeting in Germany agreed to create an interim government for Afghanistan. In late December, the Taliban's brutal rule of Afghanistan officially came to an end with the swearing in of Hamid Karzai as the leader of the new government. (Full story)
  • Two months after falling into U.S. hands after a prison uprising in Mazar-e Sharif, California resident John Walker Lindh pleaded not guilty to 10 charges, including conspiracy to kill Americans overseas while fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan. (Full story)
  • In early March, the U.S.-led coalition launched its biggest ground offensive of the war so far, "Operation Anaconda." More than 2,000 U.S., coalition and Afghan troops moved into the mountains and caves of eastern Afghanistan to root out hundreds of Taliban and al Qaeda loyalists. (Full story)
  • Recovery and security

  • The September 11 attacks caused an immediate crackdown on security around the world. In the United States, President Bush created the Cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security to coordinate resources and handle the many security issues brought to the forefront by the terrorist attacks. (Full story)
  • Bush
    Bush signs an airport security bill, one of several government initiatives related to the September 11 attacks.  

  • Congress passed new airport security legislation that among other things gave the federal government oversight of the baggage screening process. The law aims to shore up gaping holes in airport security and restore consumer confidence in the air travel industry. (Full story)
  • In the days after September 11, officials estimated removing the debris from the site of the World Trade Center would take more than a year. But the cleanup effort has progressed much faster than expected, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he expects it will be finished "roughly" by May. (Full story)
  • The terrorist attacks weakened an already faltering U.S. economy, as unemployment rates skyrocketed and corporate profits fell. But the economy has shown positive signs several months after the attacks, and Congress and President Bush finally agreed on an economic stimulus package in early March. (Full story)
  • Victims and survivors

    Ground Zero
    A recovery worker reflects at the pile of rubble known as "Ground Zero."  

  • Hospitals near the site of the World Trade Center were overwhelmed with victims of the attacks, many of whom suffered severe burns. But despite high hopes, rescuers did not pull any survivors from the rubble after September 12. (Full story)
  • The New York fire and police departments suffered immensely on September 11, with hundreds in their ranks dying in the twin towers' collapse. But many more survived, forging ahead with vivid memories of their lost comrades. (Full story)
  • Hollywood mobilized its star power to help the September 11 recovery effort by staging several benefits, including "A Tribute To Heroes," held in New York just nine days after the terrorist attacks. (Full story)
  • As a tidal wave of patriotism and sympathy swept the nation, monetary donations poured in for the survivors and victims' families. Much of the money was directed to the American Red Cross, which faced intense criticism for its handling of the funds. (Full story)




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