It’s been 20 years since that tragic day, September 11, 2001—how far away in years, yet how close in my memory it remains.
It began as a beautiful late summer morning with blue skies, sunshine, and marigolds in bloom. The announcement came over the radio and television—a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center in New York City. Like many others I at first thought it was a terrible accident. When the second plane hit the other tower, we knew it was a terrorist attack on our beloved country.
Another plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D. C., and a fourth hijacked plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania—brought down by passengers to prevent an attack on the Capitol. The passengers rallied to the words, “Let’s roll!”
In the aftermath of the destruction of the Twin Towers, workers searched for survivors. Many emergency personnel had lost their lives when they went into the buildings before they fell. Almost three thousand people died that day. Trained dogs were brought in to help with the search. People donated water and food for the rescuers. People gathered to pray, and many donated blood. It was heartbreaking to watch loved ones, clutching pictures, searching for missing family members. Years after, people are still dying and are ill because of all the toxins released.
Now, 20 years later, there are memorials at the Pentagon, at Shanksville, and at the World Trade Center. The One World Trade Center stands tall against the sky, and in the footprints of the Twin Towers, two waterfalls with reflection pools offer a space for quiet thought, remembrance, and contemplation.
Families have had to go on with their lives without their loved ones. Young children have grown to adulthood. They’ve never forgotten, nor do we. Those lost remain forever in our hearts. We pray for peace for their families and friends. We pray for peace for our world.
—Bernadette R. Gentry