Never forget. We hear it every year, yet as each year goes by, it becomes more difficult. Eighteen years have passed since that tragic morning. How do you remember? We lost 2,977 souls that day. We lost people of every race, every faith, every age, and every identity or orientation. We lost animals. We lost people in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. We lost people going to work, children in day-care, people on the planes, excited to be on vacation. We lost people who just so happened to be standing on the ground. We lost people trying to help and save others. We lost people who sacrificed their lives for another. In this article, we are going to remember some of these people (and animals).
Warning: this article is about a terrorism attack- it contains content that may be emotionally distressing.
This article is dedicated to the heroes and the victims of September 11, 2001- both the living and those we lost, and those left behind.
Remembering those who sacrificed their lives
On that fateful September morning, first responders rose to their call of duty and went into imminent danger to save others. 343 members of the New York Fire Department, 23 NYPD officers, and 37 Port Authority officers were killed. Several other federal agents died, including FBI Special Agent Leonard W. Hatton, who on his way to work (off duty), courageously took on the motto of the FBI (Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity), and gave his life to save others when he saw the towers. The entire crew of NYFD Ladder 3 lost their lives going into the building to save lives. Father Mychal Judge, a chaplain with NYFD was one of the first deaths on the scene, as he gave his life to give the victims who were falling to their deaths their last rites. Since September 11, we have lost hundreds more to cancer, and currently over 10,000 first responders are still battling cancer.
Remembering the loyalty
Salty and Roselle with their owners after 9/11
Salty was a seeing-eye dog. Salty belonged to his owner, Omar Rivera, who was blind. Omar and Salty worked in the 71st floor of Tower 1. When the plane hit the tower, the crash was so powerful it knocked Omar's computer off his desk. Salty, remaining calm, led Omar down the 71 flights of stairs. It took them over an hour to get out, as smoke swirled, people were screaming, and the building was rattling. Not long after Salty had guided Omar safely outside and a few blocks away, the building collapsed. Roselle was another brave seeing-eye dog, also saved her owner's life. Roselle was with her owner, Michael Hingson in their office on the 78th floor of Tower 2. When the plane struck, Roselle boldly guided her owner and several others in the building down over a thousand steps. Like Salty and Omar's escape, Roselle worked boldly for over an hour to guide her owner to safety. Roselle was even hit by falling debris, but it did not rattle her determination. Both men have these beautiful animals to thank for saving their lives. After 9/11, Salty and Roselle received medals for their incredible bravery.
Remembering the victims
It was a beautiful morning that day. Looking at the clear blue sky, no one would have ever guessed what devastation awaited. Children lost their mothers and fathers. Mothers and fathers lost their children. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, nieces, nephews, and cousins were all lost. Friends and co-workers were lost. Thousands of people were devastated. Some of the survivors of the victims have used the event to change their lives. Children of deceased 9/11 heroes have gone on to become firefighters. In fact 13 children of NYFD employees who gave the ultimate sacrifice are about to continue in their parents' legacy and join NYFD themselves.
Remembering the survivors
Stanley and Brian
Over 6,000 people who were injured survived. These people are here to carry on the stories of bravery and heroism. They ensure that we will never forget. One woman donated her outfit, covered in dust, to the museum in New York City. So many people were lucky- they overslept and were running late, they missed their train, they were stuck in traffic, they got sick, they were out of the office, they were on vacation, etc. When one of the planes struck the South Tower, Stanley Praimnath found himself seemingly helplessly trapped on the 81st floor. He desperately cried for help, and Brian Clark, stopped to respond. Brian stayed with Stanley and motivated him to get out of the rubble. Stanley, who had never met Brian until that moment, greeted Brian with a kiss on the cheek. The two then safely exited with their arms around each other. They remain friends after all these years.
Remembering the heroes
The heroic acts of this day are too many to list. The brave passengers of United Flight 93 banded together to attack the hijackers. They knew they would crash, but by attacking the hijackers, they ensured that no other lives would be lost, as the hijackers had planned to crash into D.C. Instead, these heroic passengers crashed the plane into a field, and although they lost their lives, they saved many more by their quick and resourceful thinking. Several military personnel saved people in the attacks at the Pentagon, carrying victims out of the burning rubble, and giving those outside medical treatment. Events like these bring out the best in people.
Never forget that there will always be someone who will help you in an instant. So many people on this day without hesitation risked, and even gave their lives, out of the kindness of their hearts. These people are the reason so many more survivors are with us today. Today is a day to mourn, but it is also a day to celebrate some of the most incredibly moving and inspiring acts of bravery. On 9/11 we saw the worst of humanity, but we also saw the best. Never forget that when there is evil, there will always be those who will do good.