Remembering 9/11, 18 years on

Today marks the 18 years since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, an event that changed the world forever.

Terrorists hijacked airplanes and commandeered them to strike the United States in the deadliest attack on US soil since Pearl Harbor.

Two of the planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, were crashed into the North and South towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan.

A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, was crashed into the Pentagon (the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense) in Arlington County, Virginia, which led to a partial collapse of the building’s west side. The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was initially flown toward Washington, D.C., but crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Here in New York, the annual commemoration took place at Ground Zero where at 8:46 am on, the first plane slammed into the north tower, there was a moment of silence, the first of six marking the strikes at the trade center, the Pentagon, and the plane crash in Pennsylvania.

Bagpipers played “America the Beautiful,” and relatives of the near 3,000 victims began reciting the names of the dead – a solemn process that lasted nearly until the end of the ceremony shortly after noon.

President Trump and First Lady, Melania Trump, led a moment of silence at the White House before traveling to the Pentagon, to commemorate all those who had fallen.

64 people aboard the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 died instantly, along with 125 people, when the plane slammed into the western side of the Pentagon building in Arlington County, Virginia, just south of Washington, D.C., at 09:37 am.

The president said that any terrorist who comes to the United States would be met with a force “the likes of which the United States has never used before.”

“The First Lady and I are united with you in grief . . . We cannot erase the pain or reverse the evil of that dark and wretched day, but we offer you all that we have.”

I recently visited Weehawken, New Jersey, where two trident-shaped beams, which served as supports for the Twin Towers stand in memory of all those who perished on on that fateful day. The memorial marks the site where 60,000 people were evacuated by ferry from Manhattan to New Jersey and received medical attention, water, and food on after the terrorists struck the World Trade Center.

The beams, which stand 8 feet wide, 30 feet long, and weigh 50,000 pounds, were salvaged from the WTC. The site is an opportunity to reflect on the innocent lives, violently taken and is a reminder of the sheer impact of the attack – steel and concrete obliterated in front of the world’s eyes.

9/11 Memorial in Weehawken, New Jersey; Image: Michael Dorgan
9/11 Memorial in Weehawken, New Jersey; Image: Michael Dorgan

The memorial also includes a lawn, infinity pool, and fountain. 5 Weehawken residents died in the attacks.

Rest in peace.