9/11 20 years later

9/11 Memorial
A memorial for a victim killed at the Pentagon, in Anamosa, IA, as seen on Sept. 10, 2021. PHOTO BY JESSICA MCWILLIAMS.

On Sept. 11, 2001, four airplanes were highjacked with the intention of causing mass fatalities. 

Two planes were crashed into the Twin Towers, in New York City, New York. A third plane, Flight 93, crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Investigators believe that Flight 93 was meant to either be flown into the White House or the Capitol building. The fourth plane was crashed into the side of the Pentagon, a military building in Washington, D.C.  

The Twin Towers would both collapse by 10:30 a.m. eastern time. 2,731* people were killed, this includes first responders, those who died in the towers, the flights and the Pentagon. 

On Oct. 7, 2001, the War on Terror began in Afghanistan with NATO’s support. Osama Bin Laden, who claimed credit for the attacks, was killed by U.S. military personnel on May 2, 2011.  The war in Afghanistan continued until a chaotic retreat this August which left weapons in the hands of enemy insurgents.  

More than 18,000 people have been sickened by pollutants that were released into the air in Lower Manhattan where the towers were located. 

Twenty years later forensic experts are still working to identify victims remains. Two more victims’ remains were recently identified. According to National Public Radio the identification was made possible because of advances in technology and the dedication of the medical examiners. 

 “Twenty years ago, we made a promise to the families of World Trade Center victims to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to identify their loved ones, and with these two new identifications, we continue to fulfill that sacred obligation,” said Dr. Barbara A. Sampson, Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York as quoted by NPR. 

Twenty years later One World Trade Center and the September 11 Memorial and Museum stand in place of the original Twin Towers.  

The last 20 years air travel has changed greatly, just months before 9/11 children could go to the terminal to watch their parents leave for a work trip or wait for their grandparents to arrive for a visit. Now you must arrive early to wait in line, take your shoes off and can only have a few ounces of soap with you. 

 For the last 20 years cities across America have erected their own memorials for 9/11. New York City hosts a televised memorial service with each person’s name read.  

This year, according to their website, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum is encouraging everyone to join with them from wherever you are across the country to take part in active remembrance and recognize how we are all connected to one another underneath the same big sky.  

On 9/11, post a picture of the sky – no matter the weather – and post it to Instagram with #NeverForget911 and @911memorial

For the last 20 years on September 11, we were all New Yorkers, united in our grief and hope for a better tomorrow. For the next 20 years on September 11, we will be New Yorkers again even if only for a moment.  

They will never be forgotten. 

*This number does not include the terrorists that orchestrated the attack.  

Image courtesy of Jessica McWilliams

Categories: Feature