Before the towers crumbled, before the doomed people jumped and the smoke billowed and the planes hit, America was on top of the world – a nation high on optimism and on the rise.
Now, that has all but vaporised.
Americans, considerably gloomier and a lot more cynical, live in constant fear of another potential terror strike - in a failing economy, under tight security, led by a man they hoped would bring the much-needed ''change'' they craved for.
The scars and the transformational change 9/11 wrought persist.
Looking at that fateful day, ten years on, we get to reflect on all that has happened since then.
The brave firemen that ran to save lives, the numerous families that lost their loved ones, the pictures of people covered with concrete dust as they ran from the falling skyskraper – they were all powerful images that brought home the realisation that mighty America was as vulnerable to terror as any nation.
Ahead of a momentous anniversary, we attempt to piece together a sense of how things stand at ground zero.
Image: The rubble of the World Trade Center smoulders following a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 in New York. (Photo credit: AFP)