On September 11, 2001, four planes were hijacked. The hijackers then deliberately flew three of the planes into two important buildings, the Pentagon in Washington DC and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. The fourth crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The loss of life and damage that these hijackings caused form the biggest act of terrorism ever on United States soil. Nearly 3000 people died in the attacks and the economic impact was immense.
The attacks have greatly increased attention to national security in the United States. This has had huge implications for United States national and international politics. This is particularly true for the relationships between the United States and Islamic countries in the Middle East.
U.S. House of Representatives Joint Resolution 71 was approved by a vote of 407–0 on October 25, 2001. It requested that the President designate September 11 of each year as “Patriot Day”. President George W. Bush signed the resolution into law on December 18, 2001 (as Public Law 107-89). It is a discretionary day of remembrance. On September 4, 2002, President Bush used his authority created by the resolution and proclaimed September 11, 2002 as Patriot Day.
On the direction of the President, the flag of the United States of America should be displayed on the homes of Americans, the White House and all United States government buildings in the whole world. The flag should be flown at half-mast as a mark of respect to those who died on September 11, 2001. Many people observe a moment of silence at 8:46 AM (Eastern Daylight Time). This marks the time that the first plane flew into the World Trade Center. Some communities, particularly in the areas directly affected by the attacks, hold special church services or prayer meetings. People who personally experienced the events in 2001 or lost loved ones in them, may lay flowers or visit memorials.