An observance was held on Friday, September 11, 2020, 19 years after the attack on The World Trade Center and the Pentagon and in the field near Shanksville, PA at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley conducted the observance in memory and honor of the almost 3,000 people that were killed in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Esper paid tribute to the survivors and to those who lost loved ones on that fateful day.
“To the friends and families of those who have perished, no words can ever soothe your grief. No act will ever replace your loss. No remembrance will ever fill that void. But please, please know that the men and women of the Department of Defense will always be with you as we give our sacred pledge that your loved ones will not have died in vain, so long as we stand watch over this great nation,” said Esper.
Although the intent of the terrorists was to forever alter the American way of life, they did not destroy the courage or the heart of the people in our great country. Instead, people came together and helped each other. They did not distinguish between, color, creed or religion, they simply ran in repeatedly to save people.
“The horrific acts of terrorism on that day were meant to disrupt the American way of life and destroy the idea that each and every one of us is created free and equal. Instead of sowing division and strife, we … came together as a nation,” Milley said.
People didn’t consider their own personal risk, they simply acted to save other human beings in their time of need.
“In the chaos and fog of the attacks, soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, civilians, first responders — all brave, all selfless, ran into the flames to help the injured and the wounded. In the smoke and the dust and the rubble, no one could discern another’s physical attributes, nor were they concerned with each other’s background. What mattered is they were helping one another. What mattered is they were Americans with complete unity of purpose,” said Milley.
Even people without proper equipment to re-enter a burning building found a way to assist people that needed the help.
“Here at the Pentagon, we honor and remember the numerous acts of heroism and personal courage that prevented the human toll from becoming much, much worse. In one account, intrepid Americans, determined to save their colleagues, rolled in pools of standing water to protect themselves from the intense fire and heat as they repeatedly rushed back into the burning rubble and smoldering ruins,” said Esper.
Beginning at 9 a.m., all of the names of the victims at the Pentagon were read. A bell was rung as each name was announced, and the individual markers at the Pentagon’s memorial were shown.
At 9:20 a.m., Esper and Milley participated in a wreath laying at the Pentagon’s memorial entrance and made their remarks. At 9:37 a.m. there was silence for 30 seconds and taps was played.
American Airlines Flight 77, which was hijacked by five terrorists, was deliberately crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. on 9/11/2001.
The attack on the Pentagon killed all 64 people on board the aircraft and 125 people inside the Pentagon. In all, more than 2,977 people died during the Sept. 11 attacks, and more than 6,000 others were injured.
Now both an indoor and outdoor memorial exists where the plane struck. The outdoor memorial is normally open to the public. Normally indoor tours are offered, but have been discontinued until further notice due to the corona virus.
The courageous spirit of the American people and the willingness to carry on despite great hardship was a part of today’s remembrance.
“It is in that spirit that we commemorate today, and every 9/11 that follows, to reflect on the blessings of this great country, to renew our commitment to the principles that have kept our homeland free, and to reaffirm our solemn vow as Americans that will — we will never forget the lives lost and tremendous sacrifices made on that fateful day and the — in the years that follow. May God bless you, and may God bless America. Thank you, “ concluded Esper.