Twenty years ago on Sept. 10, 2001, thousands of people went to bed with the expectation of simply getting up the next morning and going to their jobs at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or leaving on their various airplane flights.

They awoke the next morning, left for work and settled into their weekday routines or went to the airport. Just a few hours later at 10:28AM, they were all dead. That was when the final tower at the World Trade Center, the North Tower, collapsed. By then the South Tower had already collapsed, the Pentagon had already been hit, Flight 93 was just a horrible smoking hole in the rural Pennsylvania ground. All dead. An estimated 25,000 injured. Their families shattered.

The rest of America and most of the world was in shock. Fast forward to 2021. More first responders to the attack locations have died since then, their deaths attributed to cancer from carcinogenically laden fumes while attempting the rescue of victims.

No one under 20 years old was born then. To them this is ancient history. They cannot fathom the emotions that this day brings to us. It is still fresh in the minds of us adults who were alive then to witness either in person or in the clarity of a brilliant crystal-clear blue sky on television this act of war perpetrated by people who want to destroy America on thousands of innocent Americans and their families simply going about their weekday morning routines.

Memories are fading, other events have entered into our lives and assumed greater importance. But never forget this. Teach your young ones when they are old enough to understand that there are people who want to destroy America for reasons and beliefs that we cannot understand. Teach them about 9/11 and urge them to never forget. Teach them about December 7, 1941 and urge them to never forget. But teach them not only to mourn for the people lost, but to realize that their life will continue after such tragedies. Teach them to not dwell on the tragedy itself, but look for the helpers after tragedies occur and learn to be a helper. Teach them that evil exists in this world along with good. That they should not follow the example of evil, but follow the example of those who fight evil. To be vigilant in their lives. Learn from yesterday. Live for today. Prepare for tomorrow by remembering yesterday.

Gerald Crowell is a resident of Winchester. 

(1) comment


Thank you for your insightful Open Forum letter. Myself, I worked in DC very near the Lincoln Monument. From my office, I had a panoramic view of Constitution Gardens, Lincoln Monument , Reagan National Airport and the Pentagon. It was a beautiful September day with moderate temperatures and a crystal clear sky. It’s a stark contrast to the tragedy that was about to unfold. I just came out of a meeting when my administrative assistant told me a plane had hit the World Trade Tower. I got to a TV when the second plane hit. We were all in shock. On the way to my office, someone said the Pentagon was burning. From my office I could see black smoke billowing out of the roof. At the time, my niece was living with me. She was fresh out of college and working as a legislative assistant for a Congressman on Capitol Hill. I couldn’t get through to her and kept leaving messages. I wanted her to get back to my House. About an hour later, my Mom got a message to me saying that my niece and others got to a House in Maryland. I went into work the next day. I got there early before daybreak and could see the roof of the Pentagon still burning from the jet fuel. I thought about the folks still in there and prayed for them and their families. DC is a bustling place. That day, you could hear a pin drop. There was a feeling that somehow another shoe would fall. I have to turn the channel when they show film of the planes hitting and the tragedy of that day. It’s just too painful. We all collectively mourn the folks we lost that day and the lives of the responders lost trying to save folks. Everyone has a unique memory and a way to mourn the loss. Like you say, we should always remember but move forward.

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