September 11, 2001, is a day that we as Americans will never forget. It was on this day that the United States was attacked, on our soil, by terrorists. The attacks began at 8:46 AM when hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 11 overtook the plane and crashed it into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, killing everyone on board and hundreds inside the building. Seventeen minutes later, hijackers took over United Airlines Flight 175 and crashed that plane into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, killing all on board and hundreds inside the building. Less than an hour later, both towers came crashing down. Under the remnants of the towers were the building occupants who were trying to escape as well as the many rescuers, firefighters and police officers who rushed into the buildings to save lives.
While the attacks at the World Trade Center were airing live on every television station, at 9:43 AM, a third plane was hijacked and flown into the western side of the Pentagon in Washington, DC. The Pentagon building houses the Department of Defense. This attack killed all 64 people on board American Airlines flight 77 and 125 workers inside the Pentagon. At this point, it was understood that America was under attack and that the hijacking of our airlines was the means by which these attacks were taking place. It was quickly learned that a fourth plane had also been hijacked and appeared to be heading towards Washington, DC. This plane, United Flight 93, crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing all on board. This plane never made it to its destination after being hijacked. Several brave citizens attempted to overpower the hijackers and take control of the plane. Unfortunately, the plane crashed, but in doing so, saved the lives of many people who surely would have perished if the hijackers had been allowed to continue on their course of destruction.
September 11 is now officially called “Patriots Day”. It is a national day of service and remembrance that commemorates the terrible, catastrophic events of September 11, 2001. That day, we as Americans experienced events that forever changed the way we live our lives. We had let our guard down and terrorists took advantage of us; however, we also learned from these events. We have vowed to remain strong and vigilant, but most importantly to “Never Forget”. We must never forget the first responders, police officers, firefighters and paramedics who rushed into harm’s way and perished as a result of their selfless bravery. We must also remember the innocent people who were aboard the airplanes that were used as weapons that day, as well as all of the innocent people at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We must also remember the responders and those who have suffered long lasting health effects as a result of these events and those who lost family members, friends and co-workers. We must also think of our military, whose bravery and vigilance protects us from terrorists who seek to perpetrate further acts of violence.
I ask that on Friday, September 11, 2020, at 09:00 AM, we take a few moments to reflect and remember the events of that day, as well as those who lost their lives that day, 19 years ago. It is through this remembrance that we honor those who perished and support the families of those that were lost.
Fire Chief Matthew Buckley