The anniversary of a catastrophe

Memorial and museum opened at the location of the Twin Towers, encouraging reflection and contribution


Moment of impact — The tragedy of 11 years ago became etched in our generation’s mind. Creative Commons

Sept. 11, 2012 marks the 11th anniversary of the day that New York City played host to one of the greatest tragedies in U.S. history. Most undergraduate students were in elementary school at the time that this catastrophe struck our nation.

In fact, I can remember what it was like for me, a fourth grader, to watch the news that morning and attempt to process what was happening on our television screen. I had just woken up to get ready for school, and the moment my mom told me what was happening, I thought it was just a terrible dream. At that moment, our world and our lives changed forever.

In New York City, it was a perfect, blue-sky morning. By 8:46 a.m., the first of a series of four al-Qaeda attacks had hit the first target—the North Tower of the World Trade Center Complex in Lower Manhattan. Little did the nation know that 19 Islamic terrorists would hijack four passenger jets and aim them towards four U.S. landmarks. All before noon, two planes had hit both the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center Complex, one flew into the Pentagon, and the last plane, designated to hit the U.S. Capitol, crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pa.

Approximately 3,000 people died in the attacks on that ill-fated day. A total of 246 civilians and 19 hijackers were also aboard the four planes.

American Airlines Flight 11, en route to Los Angeles, was carrying 11 crew members, 76 passengers and five hijackers when it was rerouted to hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC).

United Airlines Flight 175, also en route to Los Angeles, carried a crew of nine members, 51 passengers and another five hijackers when it hit the South Tower of the WTC.

American Airlines Flight 77 left Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. with six crew members, 53 passengers and five additional hijackers when it hit the Pentagon.

Lastly, United Airlines Flight 93 was headed to San Francisco with seven crew members, 33 passengers and the last four hijackers when it crashed into a field in Shanksville. Luckily, passengers were successful in the take down of the terrorists aboard the plane and kept them from reaching their target — the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

Since that fateful day, monuments and memorials now stand in place of the Twin Towers. The National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City offers valuable information and resources to those wanting to contribute.

“On our website this year, there will be a page specifically devoted to how individuals can commemorate the day,” Joe Daniels, President of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, said. “There will be resources that will be provided for teachers, principals and parents to help engage the younger generations and help explain and educate about such an important part of American history. There are several ways for people to get involved, such as contributing money to make sure the preservation of the artifacts continues. I just want to encourage people to do something in recognition of Sept. 11.”

Along with the option of monetary contribution, visitors and bystanders are able to sponsor a cobblestone, either individually or as a gift, to help finance the memorial’s annual upkeep cost of $60 million. Sponsored cobblestones serve as the entryway to the memorial.

The 9/11 Memorial has also set up a volunteer program where community members can offer compassion, patience, integrity and communication skills as a part of the Visitor Services staff. These staff members are responsible for maintaining a safe and meaningful experience at the memorial.

On Sept. 11, we saw first-hand how terrorists wanted to shake our freedom and our liberty. However, the Lord tells us in Leviticus 19:18 to “not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

Because of this, we resolved to move on, but never forget that moment.

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