9/11: Twenty Years Later

The 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States provides opportunities for sober reflection on the events of that day, gives us pause to dissect what has ensued over the last twenty years, and encourages us to examine what is currently happening today as a direct result of those attacks, all of which remains central to “why we do what we do.” The Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) began as a database in support of professionals conducting research and studies through the Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s programs, which focus on training and informing those in the homeland security enterprise. In the wake of September 11, 2001, the Department of Homeland Security was created to better prepare for and prevent future attacks on American soil. Almost two decades later, the HSDL has grown significantly as our focus has expanded to meet the evolving needs and areas of study pertaining to homeland security. 

In honor of the last twenty years, here are some highlights from resources collected in our library related to the September 11th attacks and the after-effects:


Reflecting on Events of That Fateful Day

9/11 Digital Collection by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media and American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning

September 11 in the White House by the Brookings Institution

A Nation Remembers, A Nation Recovers: Responding to September 11 One Year Later by the Federal Emergency Management Agency


The US Joins With Several Other Nations to Declare “War on Terrorism”

House Document 107-127: Report on Actions Taken to Respond to the Threat of Terrorism: Communication from the President of the United States by the Government Printing Office (currently Government Publishing Office)

President George W. Bush’s Speech Outlining War Effort, October 17, 2001 by the Office of the White House Secretary

President Discusses War on Terrorism by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security


Formation of DHS

With the passage of the Homeland Security Act by Congress in November 2002, the Department of Homeland Security formally came into being as a stand-alone, Cabinet-level department to further coordinate and unify national homeland security efforts, opening its doors on March 1, 2003. The Department became the third-largest federal department, bringing together 22 different federal agencies. Visit DHS’s September 11 Chronology detailing concrete measures put in place directly in response to identified weaknesses based upon the 9/11 commission. Further available resources:

Congressional Hearing on the Creation of Homeland Security by the Government Printing Office (currently Government Publishing Office)

Homeland Security: Department Organization and Management – Implementation Phase by the Congressional Research Service

DHS Fact Sheet: Protecting the Homeland Post September 11 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security



Public Law 107-38: 2001 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Recovery from and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the United States by the Government Printing Office (currently Government Publishing Office)

The 9/11 Effect and Its Legacy on U.S. Immigration Laws; Essays, Remarks, and Photographs published by the PennState Law eLibrary

Public Law 111-347: The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 by the Government Printing Office (currently Government Publishing Office)


Effects and Costs of War

Costs of War website by Brown University. Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Long-Term Costs of United States Care for Veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars published by Brown University. Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11 by the Congressional Research Service


Recently in the News

Although so much has changed in the last twenty years, the path that fateful day set us on is still being navigated. 

The U.S. military spent nearly twenty years in Afghanistan, trying to help remove violent terrorists in power and establish a government that allowed its citizens more freedoms and human rights.  It has been a precarious journey, and came with some successes, such as the removal of Osama Bin Laden, the financier and mastermind of several terrorist plots, but it has also been filled with great losses — namely the lives of civilians and soldiers. It has been a long process of trying to support the newly formed government in Afghanistan while also attempting to fulfill the goal to eventually remove our soldiers from the midst of their civil war. As our last troops were being pulled out of the area, the Taliban regained control and left many wondering, “What will happen now?” and “Was it all worth it?” Some available resources that discuss this in more detail are:

Afghanistan 20/20: The 20-Year War in 20 Documents by the National Security Archives

U.S. Military Withdrawal and Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan: Frequently Asked Questions by the Congressional Research Service

Ever-Shifting Goalposts: Lessons from 20 Years of Security Assistance in Afghanistan by the Center for International Policy.


More In-Depth Collections in HSDL

Featured Topic: September 11, 2001 Attacks

Timeline Event: Remembering 9/11 20 Years Later 

HSDL’s 9/11 at 20 series

In-Focus: 9/11 20th Anniversary

Upcoming virtual seminars/workshops available related to the 20th anniversary of 9/11

Co-authored by Monica Wood and Erin Dauphinais-Soos

Please note an HSDL login is required to view some of these resources. Need help finding something? Ask one of our librarians for assistance!

Note: you may need to login to the HSDL to view some resources mentioned in the blog.

Need help finding something?  Ask our librarians for assistance!

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