Sixteen years ago today, on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, news trickled in of a “plane” striking the World Trade Center. At least some people assumed it was an errant, small plane – an accidental mishap. Then, as television cameras captured images of smoke billowing from the first twin tower, images of the high-speed impact of a second airplane crashing into the second tower made it clear that the smoke neither stemmed from a small plane, nor was this accidental: The nation, and indeed the world, watched the callous terrorist attack in horror.
Within the same general time frame, a commercial airline flight crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, while its passengers heroically struggled with terrorists. Terrorists flew yet another plane into the Pentagon.
All told, a staggering 2,977 innocent people perished in the carnage, and – among them – 746 New Jersey residents, most of whom had simply crossed the Hudson River to work at their World Trade Center-located jobs.
With the exception of the Revolutionary War, the United States’ civil war, and World War II’s Pearl Harbor attack, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have typically shielded our country from the impact of wars, invaders and other such calamities. In the minds of millions, that innocence – that sense of security – tragically diminished, 16 years ago.
If there were perhaps any silver lining to the horrific loss of life, Americans of all stripes seemed to unite in those September days, helping each other bear the pain, and often flying American flags from both their cars and homes.
In remembrance of 9/11, Governor Chris Christie said today, “As we recognize the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, we pause to remember the thousands of innocent victims who lost their lives or were injured on that day in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. This day is always a somber reminder for the nearly 700 families across the State of New Jersey who tragically lost loved ones in the attacks, and the events of that day continue to weigh heavy on the hearts and minds of all Americans. That September morning united us as a nation to show the world our strength and resolve to overcome evil. Sixteen years later, we reflect on the acts of heroism that were displayed by so many people on that day and honor those Americans in uniform – firefighters, police officers, EMS responders, and our servicemen and women – who work every day to protect our freedoms and our liberties. Just as we did on September 11, 2001, we continue to display today and every day the resilience, strength and patriotism that defines us as New Jerseyans and as Americans.”
The State says that Governor Christie signed Executive Order No. 231 ordering “all State buildings to fly flags at half-staff on Monday, September 11, 2017, to recognize and mourn the thousands of lives lost in the September 11th attacks. The Governor also issued a proclamation marking September 11, 2017, as “Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance” throughout New Jersey.”
As unusual as it may seem, some people in the United States – particularly those in Generation Z – were either not yet born, or were too young to remember 9/11 with any detail or vivid memories. While each person has his or her way of recognizing 9/11 and honoring its victims, many agree that reciting the victims’ names and, overall, remembering the event, may not only honor the victims, but also honor the very freedoms which our Founding Fathers conceived of in 1776.