Patriot Day, which falls on the 11th of September is remembered world-wide as the anniversary of the catastrophic terrorist attacks on the USA that occurred on September 11th, 2001.
For those of us who lived through it, this day is embedded in our memories and most of us can tell you exactly what we were doing at the moment that we first got the news that three jet planes had been hijacked and crashed into the New York World Trade Center and the Pentagon and that a fourth plane (United Airlines Flight 93) had also been hijacked and was on course toward Washington DC. This fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, which we found out later was the result of the heroic acts of the passengers on board the plane when they found out what had happened in New York and at the Pentagon. For most of that day and the days to follow, people were glued to their televisions watching first in horror, anger, and shock and then finally a deep sense of sadness as the reality of what had happened sank in and the names and faces of the fallen flashed across the screen. Many of us were hoping that the rescue workers would find some survivors in the twisted rubble even though that hope dimmed as the days passed.
The large majority of those that were lost after the attacks on the Twin Towers were working at or above the points of collision. On this day like many others before, thousands of people had gone to work that morning. On that particular September morning though they suddenly found themselves stranded at the top of a burning skyscraper while the entire world watched. A number of them made the choice to jump from the flaming buildings rather than to wait to be caught by the flames or for the building to collapse because there was no way for them to escape. No one that watched the events unfold on the news coverage or at the scene will ever forget the terrifying and heartbreaking stories and images that were captured by the news footage of the day.
When we remember that day we also need to remember the many brave men and women from the emergency services that risked their lives trying to help rescue victims after the World Trade Center collisions. We need to remember that 411 of them lost their own lives attempting to fight fires and rescue people that day as these brave men and women were true hero's.
Today, Patriot Day is recognized by United States law as the official day of remembrance for these tragic events. It has been observed every year since the attacks of September 11, 2001 and each year on this day, American flags are flown at half-staff to honor and commemorate those who lost their lives. Our President asks that all Americans take time to observe a moment of silence at 8.46 AM (Eastern Daylight Time), which is the time of the first plane collision into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
While the events took place within the USA, the shock and grief experienced in response to the attacks was shared world-wide, and for this reason Patriot Day is observed not only in America, but all over the world. Please help us take time to remember the 2,977 people that were lost that September day fifteen years ago.