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What Will You Always Remember? My Thoughts As a High Schooler in 2001.

Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.  All of the major news networks will be covering the memorials.  Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect . . .

1.  President Biden plans to visit all three sites where the attacks unfolded:  The World Trade Center in New York . . . the Pentagon outside D.C. . . . and the memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania where Flight 93 crashed.  That’s the plane that was supposed to hit the Capitol building, but the passengers fought back.

2.  The 9/11 Memorial in New York will hold a ceremony where all the victims’ names will be read out loud.  It starts at 8:30, followed by a moment of silence at 8:46 A.M. when the first plane hit the North Tower.  Only the victims’ families will be in attendance.  (Here’s a helpful timeline of how that terrible morning unfolded.)

3.  A private ceremony for family will also happen at the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania to honor the 40 lives that were lost there.  They’re also doing a candle ceremony tonight, where 40 lanterns will be placed next to the Wall of Names memorial.

4.  Another memorial is happening at the Pentagon, where 184 people lost their lives.  At sunrise, they’ll unfurl a big American flag on the west side of the building where American Airlines Flight 77 hit.

Around a third of Americans are too young to remember 9/11.  A report in 2015 put it at 26%.  But over 30% of Americans are now 25 and younger.  So they were too young to remember, or weren’t born yet.  (A professor at Stanford who teaches a class about 9/11 says it’s weird to be the only one in the room who remembers it now.)

I can’t let this day go without sharing my personal thoughts and memories of what happened from my own personal point of view.

I am of a strange generation that split the gap between the “old days” without technology and the iPhone age in which we currently reside. And in 2001, when I was a senior in high school, my generation was splitting the gap between innocent children and grown adults.

The terrorist attacks of 2001 gave all of a very hard push from naive teen into a somewhat-aware adult, whether we wanted to or not. It was the point where we lost the innocence of childhood and realized what type of people were in this world, and that changed our own world forever.

I wrote about my thoughts and memories of that day in a freeform fashion, just writing whatever came into my brain. It was hard for my fingers to keep up, because once you start typing and those memories start flowing, they won’t stop until they are all out.

I encourage you to do the same, and share your own stream of memories with us.


The TVs on the classroom walls being tuned to the coverage.

The silence in the halls as we went from class to class.

The knowledge that something important was happening, but the high school naivety of not knowing HOW big.

Going home and watching the news coverage non-stop.

All the theories being batted around.

The images of soot covered buildings and people.

The terrified look on that one woman’s face in that video of people fleeing down a New York street.

The day the word “terrorism” entered my vernacular.

Secret Service whispering in President Bush’s ear as he read to school children and his address to the nation not long after.

Reality sinking in the following day and the feeling of unity that came of the country.

Those are some of the things that I’ll always remember about September 11, 2001 as I just started my senior year at Providence Catholic High School.

It was almost half of my lifetime ago. I just turned 35, and today we remember the events of Sept. 11, 2001 that happened 17 years ago. In some ways it feels like it’s been a long time, in others it feels like yesterday.

Here’s a short clip of the only video footage of the FIRST plane hitting one of the towers. WARNING: It’s still VERY hard to watch, and there is some very justifiable profanity.

I really encourage you to start writing your memories of that day one line, one memory at a time. As you write one memory others will flood your brain and your fingers will have trouble keeping up. I call this “active remembering,” (is that a thing?) when you sit down and focus your attention on actually trying to recall facts, emotions and thoughts of that day.

Start with where you were. Then why you were there…then watch the memories stream back into your consciousness. That’s how I never forget.

I need this to help me remember those details because when my son and daughter come to me after reading about this in history class, I want to be there with memories that matter, not just cliches. They need to know how awful that day was, but they also need to know the feeling that swept of Sept. 12, 2001.

Finally, a sincere thank you to servicemen and servicewomen who risk themselves everyday just like those police, fire and EMTs and ordinary citizens in New York 17 years ago.

Here are five stats and facts for the 20th anniversary of 9/11 . . .

1.  It’s the deadliest terror attack in history.  2,977 people were killed on September 11th, 2001:  2,753 at the World Trade Center . . . 184 at the Pentagon . . . and 40 passengers and crew in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  (Many of the remains still haven’t been identified.  Two more victims were just ID’d this week through DNA.)

2.  343 New York City firefighters . . . 23 NYPD officers . . . and 37 Port Authority officers lost their lives.  Over 6,000 people were also injured.  (Thousands of deaths have also been linked to health problems caused by toxic dust at Ground Zero.)

3.  More than 80 nationalities lost at least one life that day.  The British lost the second highest number of people.  372 non-Americans were killed, including 67 Brits.

4.  20 people were pulled out of the World Trade Center rubble alive.  The last survivor was trapped 27 hours before she was rescued.

5.  The attacks were devastating, but Americans came together.  In the first two days after 9/11, more than 1.5 million units of blood were donated nationwide.  And that September alone, people donated $657 million to help the victims’ families.

It’s always great to hear other people’s stories. Our Facebook page has an ongoing share session, and what’s great is that we have fans from all different ages and backgrounds giving us a variety of viewpoints.

By the end of the year, over $2 BILLION had been donated.  Around 60% of Americans gave money, donated blood, or volunteered in various ways.  (WeAreTheMighty.com did a great article a while back called “7 Incredible Stories of Heroism on 9/11.”)


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