Exactly 13 years ago 2,996 people lost their lives in one of the most horrific attacks in American history, and Obama led the nation this week to commemorate the tragedy on the anniversary of 9/11. Ceremonies to remember and honor the fallen Americans were felt and watched around the nation on Thursday. Family members of those victims came together in Manhattan, the Pentagon, as well as the fields of Pennsylvania, as the President addressed his military plan to conquer any terrorist organization whose mission it is to bring destruction to the country.
“Our nation cannot remove all forms of evil that exist in the world, nor can we eradicate every faction of killers that have the will to inflict immeasurable harm,” the President stated. “This has been true before the attack on September 11th, and unfortunately still remains true to this day.” More than a decade after a terrorist group hijacked four airliners and used them to launch a deplorable assault on America, relatives and friends of the victims, along with politicians joined at Ground Zero.
On Thursday morning, 46 minutes after 8a.m., (which was the same time that Flight 11 hit the first tower on 9/11), a few moments of silence were held. In Washington, the President, joined by the first lady and V.P. Joe Biden, who had their heads down on the white house lawn. 3 minutes after 9a.m., another moment was taken for the second plane which struck the second tower. Four additional silent moments came, representing the fall of each tower, the plane crash through the Pentagon, as well as Flight 93 which killed 40 passengers crashing on a field in Pennsylvania.
On Thursday’s 13th commemorative anniversary, joined by President Obama, family and loved ones of the sudden victims read from a list of names of the fallen on 9/11, 2001. There was a moment during the reading when someone had let go of a balloon in the shape of a heart, which soared past trees, cranes and skyscrapers, to eventually disappear into the overcast sky. Although the reconstruction of the Twin Towers was delayed through the years, new skyscrapers that were built around the site of Ground Zero are now open. 1 World Trade Center, which is reported to be the largest skyscraper among the Western Hemisphere, is said to be opening later this year.
The President talked about many things in that quiet and solemn morning, on reflections and deep pains of the past, but also spoke on generations of the future. “There are now teens, and young adults, who were brought forth into the world after 9/11. It is truly remarkable,” Obama said. Remarkable indeed, as 17-year-old Jordan Thompson, a Bronx native, declared that he made the choice to become a Marine because of the attacks on 9/11.
Thompson’s uncle, Leon Heyward, was a parks department worker who spent several weeks clearing out rubble and looking for the lost at the ground site. He would die five years later after suffering from medical complications due to the chemicals and dust he breathed in during that time. “After seeing my uncle’s courage and the events that took place here, I knew I wanted to go and help people,” the 17-year-old said. “I really do not like seeing the weak get abused.”
Thompson expressed how he couldn’t understand that the U.S. was currently engaged in conflict towards the Middle East, and still attempting to close in on forces like those who were involved in the Sept. 11th attacks. “Having a desire to go there, I want to become a part of the solution and assist people in those regions,” he said. “Many Americans have died so that we can live and continue to be free. I just hope everyone will remember that.”
On the 13th anniversary of 9/11, Obama commemorated and openly talked about what makes the United States unique, and also, what the country will never do. “Generations from this moment, no matter the situation or trial, no matter the hardship, America will always be, and continue to be America. Our nation carries on because of what we stand for. As Americans, letting injustice win is never an option. We do not, and will not give in to fear….Ever.”
By Theodore Borders