American Legion National Commander Richard Santos and other top officers and commission chairmen of the organization are on Capitol Hill preparing to deliver 10 a.m. testimony at a joint congressional hearing when authorities tell everyone they have to get out of the building immediately.

President George W. Bush issues evacuation orders after the Pentagon is hit by hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 at 9:37 a.m. Less than an hour earlier, the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City are struck by two other hijacked passenger jets, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175. At 10:03 a.m., following the Pentagon attack, United Flight 93 is crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside. That plane is later discovered to have been on a course to the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., before heroic passengers overcame the terrorist hijackers and plunged to the jet to the ground near Shanksville, Pa.

The 9/11 attacks kill nearly 3,000, including the hijackers, and injure more than 6,000 others.

An American Legion post in the Downtown Athletic Club is demolished in the New York City strike. Lt. B.R. Kimlau Chinese Memorial American Legion Post 1291 is transformed into a support center for disaster relief personnel and a clearinghouse for stuffed animals sent from Canada to comfort children after the tragedy. Posts from throughout the tri-state area donate supplies and provide assistance as the fiery site known as “ground zero” is searched for the missing.

The attacks lead President Bush to call America back to war, this time not against an enemy nation, but a violent ideology. The Global War on Terrorism has begun. Within two months, U.S. Special Forces units are fighting the Taliban and al Qaida in northern Afghanistan, the beginning of a military conflict that continues today in the Middle East, making it America’s longest war.

The day after the attacks, The American Legion re-activates its Family Support Network to provide assistance to military families with at least one parent deployed to service.