Since the establishment of our country, we have always stood on grounds that were built by men from across the world. A ground that was cultivated with cultures from across the globe. A ground that was shaken to its maximum potential on September 11, 2001. I still remember this day, as many others still do; I was sitting in my high school Spanish class, when an announcement was made to turn on the news and watch the events unfold. A plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers, and to our surprise, as we watched the building, a second plane flew into the second tower, almost instantaneously destroying it.
Today, ten years later, after the four coordinated attached on the United States (New York City and Washington D.C.), we look back and remember those who we’ve lost and how far we’ve come in the fight against terrorism.
We remember that these hijackers crashed two planes into the Twin Towers (New York City), a third plane into the Pentagon (Arlington, VA), and a fourth one, United Airlines Flight 93 into a field near Shanksville, PA. Nearly 3,000 innocent civilians lives were lost in just a matter of hours.
Ten years ago, New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani asserted, “We will rebuild. We’re going to come out of this stronger than before, politically stronger, economically stronger. The skyline will be made whole again.”
And he stood strong next to those words. The Pentagon was rebuilt and people were back to work within a year. The PATH station near the WTC was opened in late 2003 and establishment of the 7 World Trade Center was completed in 2006. 1 World Trade Center, more popularly known as, The Freedom Tower, is under construction. It will be completed in 2014 and will be the tallest building in North America. And there will be three more towers build one block east of where the original towers once stood.
On this day, we remember those whom we lost; those who fought for our country, and those who defended us during these devastating times.
Yesterday afternoon, in Shanksville, PA, bells were rung 40 times, as the names of the 33 passengers and 7 crew members were read out-loud. These innocent people risked their lives so that hundreds of other innocent lives wouldn’t be lost. These 40 people will forever remain in the hearts of millions across the world.
Of those present during this memorial service were countless visitors from across America, which also included more than 700 family members of the 40 who passed on this day, in addition to, Vice President Joe Biden and former Presidents George W. Bush & Bill Clinton.
Vice President Biden refereed to Bush as, “the man responsible for bringing our country together at a time when it could have been torn apart, for making it clear that America could not be brought to her knees,” and who also, “”helped us find our way, and for that you deserve our gratitude for a long, long time.”
Clinton then stated in his speech, “With almost no time to decide, they gave the entire country an incalculable gift. They saved the Capitol from attack, they saved God knows how many lives, and they spared the terrorists from claiming the symbolic victory of smashing the center of American government.”
And during this time, President Obama and his national security team were following their latest updates: a possible terrorist threat against the country, that al-Qaida might be seeking to detonate a car bomb in New York or Washington.
But President Obama assured the people of America that, “a decade after 9/11, it’s clear for all the world to see — the terrorists who attacked us that September morning are no match for the character of our people, the resilience of our nation, or the endurance of our values,” during his weekly radio and Internet address.
And with all this in mind, I deeply and strongly encourage you to please attend a memorial service for September 11th in your community. Today is a day we remember those that are with us no more. Today we remember those who sacrificed everything for others. Today we remember innocence.
In New York City, the ceremony will take place near the World Trade Center site on the morning of Sunday, September 11, 2011. Both President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush will take part in the memorial ceremony at Ground Zero. Both will each read a poem or quote, and there will be no speeches. As it’s done every year with love and sincerity, family members of the victims will read names of those who were lost during these attacks. There will be a moment of silence during the time of when the towers fell, the attack on the Pentagon, as well as, the crash in Shanksville. The only part of this memorial service which has upset many people is that family members of the victims are the only ones who will be able to take part in this ceremony.
Later in the day, there will be “The Tribute in Light,” which is presented by the Municipal Arts Society. The lights will be illuminated from dusk on September 11 until dawn the next day. It is reported that the lights illuminate so much that they can be seen from as far as Rockland County, which is an hour from New York City.
In addition to these memorial events, PS1 has organized an exhibit to commemorate the tenth anniversary, which will run from September 11, 2011–January 9, 2012. In a press release, it was stated that the, “exhibit explores how the events of 9/11 have changed our view of the world. Most of the 70 works of art included in the exhibit were made before 9/11, including a Diane Arbus photo of a newspaper blowing across a New York intersection at night from the late 1950s and a series of pictures of the World Financial Center by John Pilson taken in the late 1990s.”
In Washington D.C., as every year, there will be the Unity Walk through Embassy Row. The churches, mosques, and synagogues near Embassy Row open to admit people of all faiths, sharing their traditions, leading tours, and answering questions. There have also been demonstrations in the past such as Sikh turban-tying and Buddhist chanting. The Unity Walk begins at 1:30 p.m.
The Smithsonians’ are also showcasing, “9/11: Stories in Fragments,” with a special exhibition. It features fifty objects recovered from Ground Zero and the Pentagon after the attacks. The exhibition also showcases items reflecting the changes Americans have experienced as a result of 9/11.
These are just a few of the many services and remembrance acts which are taking place in New York City and Washington D.C. Check with your local government offices to see what is being done in your city to remember this day and those whom we’ve lost. May you pray today that these souls forever rest in peace and that our Country continues to grow stronger and show to the world, that we can overcome anything and everything because we have the support of one another.
I leave you with a poem, written by, Alan W. Jankowski.
We Shall Never Forget (9-11 Tribute)
Let the world always remember,
That fateful day in September,
And the ones who answered duties call,
Should be remembered by us all.
Who left the comfort of their home,
To face perils as yet unknown,
An embodiment of goodness on a day,
When men’s hearts had gone astray.
Sons and daughters like me and you,
Who never questioned what they had to do,
Who by example, were a source of hope,
And strength to others who could not cope.
Heroes that would not turn their back,
With determination that would not crack,
Who bound together in their ranks,
And asking not a word of thanks.
Men who bravely gave their lives,
Whose orphaned kids and widowed wives,
Can proudly look back on their dad,
Who gave this country all they had.
Actions taken without regret,
Heroisms we shall never forget,
The ones who paid the ultimate price,
Let’s never forget their sacrifice.
And never forget the ones no longer here,
Who fought for the freedoms we all hold dear,
And may their memory never wane,
Lest their sacrifices be in vain.
-Alan W. Jankowski