For those old enough to remember, it may seem hard to believe that 2021 is the 20th anniversary of the attacks of September 11th. For those too young to remember, many feel this anniversary serves as an important opportunity to teach and learn.
“As we move further from the actual date, I feel it is our mission to educate as many people as possible so that they can learn about this important day. There are 75 million Americans who were not alive on that day,” said Donna Gibson, president of the Board of the Friends, Flight 93 National Memorial.
Located in Shanksville, Somerset County, the memorial is located at the actual site where Flight 93, one of the four flights overtaken by terrorists, went down that day. According to Gibson, the Friends is a nonprofit that works closely with the National Park Service to help raise awareness, funds and support for programing and education.
Pittsburgh is within easy driving distance of the sites of the three major attacks, especially the Flight 93 National Memorial.
The Flight 93 National Memorial sits on 1,000 acres in a rather remote area of western Pennsylvania. On site is the Memorial Plaza, a long white wall engraved with all who lost their lives that day. The wall follows the actual flight path of Flight 93 before it crashed in a field beyond the wall.
The Visitor Center houses a permanent exhibition that tells the story of Flight 93 within the context of the overall terrorist attack. The exhibit includes interactive and multimedia displays along with artifacts. The Tower of Voices is the newest component of the Memorial. The Tower is a 93-foot tall structure that holds 40 wind chimes, representing each of the 40 passengers and crew members. The memorial is free and open to the public.
To honor the 20th anniversary, the National Park Service and the Friends have organized several events including the first-ever National Heroes Award. The award will honor an individual who has displayed bravery and courage and put themselves in harm’s way to assist others, Gibson said.
On the evening of September 10th, 40 luminaria will be placed at the Memorial Plaza wall. Lantern carriers, often family members, place the lights in front of the designated spaces for their loved ones. The Johnstown Symphony will accompany the ceremony.
September 11th will include a host of events at Memorial Plaza to commemorate the important anniversary, including performances by the U.S. Marine Corps Band and the Johnstown Symphony. According to Stephen Clark, superintendent, National Parks of Western Pennsylvania, military and government dignitaries will also attend, including Gov. Wolf, and a member of the White House is also expected, but will not be announced until closer to the date.
“The focus will be on the families of the 40 people who lost their lives. We will have the reading of all 40 names starting at 9:45 a.m. sharp so that at 10:03 and 11 seconds, the exact time the plane crashed, we will be reading the names,” Clark said.
After the reading of the names, the Bells of Remembrance will be rung and a wreath will be placed at the Wall of Names. “Everything that we have planned is for a reason, there is a symbol, a remembrance; all activities have been carefully selected,” Clark said.
All events are free and open to the public on a first-come basis. For more information on exact times and locations for all events, visit https://www.nps.gov/flni/planyourvisit/sept11observance.htm
The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, located in Washington, DC, honors the 184 victims of the attack on the Pentagon. At the memorial are 184 Memorial Unit benches, one dedicated to each victim, surrounded by 85 crape myrtle trees.
Each of the benches is positioned along an age line, according to the year the victims were born, and distinguish those who died on Flight 77 from those who died in the Pentagon. The benches honoring the victims from Flight 77 face the direction of the plane’s approach to the Pentagon, and those honoring the Pentagon victims face the plane’s point of impact. The memorial is free and open to the public.
A large black granite stone denotes the entrance to the Memorial Gateway with the date and time of the plane crash on September 11, 2001, at 9:47 a.m. The memorial is open 24/7.
On Sept. 11, the 20th Annual Arlington Police, Fire, Sheriff and ECC 9/11 Memorial 5K will take place in honor of the anniversary; to date, more than 40,000
runners have raised more than $800,000 for 9/11-related charities. For more information on the race, visit www.arlington911race.com. For information on other
events, visit https://pentagonmemorial.org.
The 9/11 Memorial Museum is located in New York City at the site of the World Trade Center, home of the largest attack on September 11. The museum tells the story of 9/11 through a variety of means including narratives, media, and a collection of artifacts.
"The 9/11 Memorial Museum stands as a symbol of healing, renewal, and hope in the aftermath of tragedy. The stories of leadership, courage, service, and sacrifice housed within the walls of this museum stand as powerful reminders that, in the face of adversity and unfathomable loss of life, our capacity for hope and our potential for resilience will see us through," said museum CEO and President Alice Greenwald.
The Memorial Museum will host its annual ceremony for family members, which includes a live, in-person reading of the names of the 2,983 victims of the September 11 attacks and the names of the victims of the February 26, 1993, bombing at the World Trade Center.
There is a fee for admission to the museum and gallery. For more information on other events, visit https://www.911memorial.org.
Editor's Note: Please check each location's website before planning a trip: some may be closed as a result of COVID precautions.