September 11, 2001 is seared into our memories, our hearts and our souls—the horrendous sight of two jet airliners hijacked and flown by terrorists into The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York City. A third jet striking the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, a fourth—the cockpit taken over by terrorists who turned the plane southeast toward our nation’s Capital. Before it could hit its destination—forty passengers and crew members devised a plan to fight back and began a disruption. The plane plunged—at 563-miles per hour—into a field near Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Seven thousand gallons of fuel exploded—the conflagration soared killing everyone on board.
Vivid pictures of that day return when we remember where we were and what we were doing when we learned about that fatal attack. My husband and I had begun breakfast, turned on New York City’s classical music station and heard that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers. At first, we thought it an accident much like the one that had happened at the Empire State Building many years before—then a frantic call came from a friend telling us to turn on the television. We watched as fellow workers held hands and jumped from the top floors—I later learned that one was a cousin—newly married—who had just begun working for the firm who occupied one of the peak offices.
Since 2001, many of our best writers have explored that day. Think of Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin, Art Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and 102 Minutes by Kevin Flynn and Jim Dyer. Portraits of Grief written by reporters for The New York Times was miniature 200-words pieces that showed an aspect of each lost individual’s life. Some family members thought more traditional obituaries should have been written but most felt it helped in the healing process.
Three thousand people lost their lives during and after that suicide mission. Families and friends and responders made bereft with the loss of those they loved and cherished. Ideals were shaken but those who believe in a better world will continue to believe in democracy and a better way of life.
At the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia no guided tours are offered. Every visitor is free to wander the grounds, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day to personally meditate and reflect on a day that will never be forgotten.
The Flight 93 National Memorial now includes a learning center and a wall of remembrance.
“Timeless in simplicity and beauty, like its landscape both solemn and uplifting, the Memorial should be quiet in reverence, yet powerful in form, a place both solemn and uplifting.” Paul Murdoch, Architect
Next spring the National September 11 Memorial and Museum will be open in New York and include two 80’steel columns that will act as markers to a staircase that lead to the mezzanine where visitors will see the undersides of the memorial pool which indicates the site of the twin towers. The lives of people lost on September 11 will be highlighted in the memorial area. In years to come when no one is left who bore witness to that day—descendents, fellow citizens, travelers, historians and writers will visit the museum and see, hear and continue telling the story.