September 11, 2021 marks 20 years since one of the most harrowing days in the history of the United States.

On September 11, 2001, a series of tragic attacks led to the death of about 3,000 individuals.

Many of these deaths were victims working in the twin towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York, when two planes hijacked by Al Qaeda struck the buildings.

While the north tower was stuck just 17 minutes earlier than the south tower, both towers tragically collapsed as a result of the impact.

During this chaos, hundreds of firefighters, police officers, and medics were called in to help with the fires and rescue people stuck in buildings. Once the towers collapsed, many of these first responders did not survive. 

Following these two attacks, another hijacked plane flew into the Pentagon in Washington, DC, thus starting a fire in the building.

Later in the morning, another plane crashed in Pennsylvania during an attempted hijacking.

Each of these fallen planes crashed with all of their civilian passengers in them. After this fourth hijacking, all planes in the United States were grounded. 

The collapse of the towers caused harmful smoke and debris to spread across lower Manhattan. Everyone who was in the area of the towers breathed in this dust.

Even after the fires died days later, rescue forces continued searching in the rubble and smoke for lost loved ones.

20 years later, local tri-state tv channels are still airing commercials to help these Ground Zero rescue units find aid for the long terms illnesses and cancer they have as a result of the help during September 2001.

Living on the opposite side of the country 20 years later, it can be hard to image and remember this heartbreaking day.

While it seems bizarre that the seniors at Gonzaga University are too old to remember the events in real time, it is even more jarring to think that many first years were not even born yet during this tragedy.

Growing up, most people in Generation Z can attest to adults always saying, “I can remember the exact place I was when I first heard about 9/11.” However, this is not the case for most people born within the last twenty-five years. 

Many young students are hearing about these tragic events for the first time in school. For others the horrific story is simply passed down the grapevine.

Each time this story taught, it is one degree farther of separation and can feel harder to understand the terror that American felt that day while watching the twin towers collapse.

This is why it is important to remember this tragedy and the harrowing events of this day.  

For many upperclassmen born just before 2001, 9/11 has always been a tragedy we have known about. For me, being raised on Long Island, just outside of the five boroughs of New York City, it was an event that shaped my reality before I was even aware of it.

I know 9/11 through classmates that lost their parents before they could ever really know them. Families that lost their children. First-responders that are still facing life ending diseases. Even my own friends, neighbors, and family members that were lucky enough to escape the collapsing towers that day.

Remembering the trauma that people around the United States went through is important to keep the memory of all those lives lost alive.

While it may seem like it is an event of the past, there is a clear need for people of all ages to understand what happened and the lasting repercussions. 

In the place where the twin towers once stood, there are now two reflection pools engraved with the names of all of the lives lost on 9/11.

On the anniversary of this day, each of the names of the victims is read aloud.

Twenty years can feel like a blink of an eye, but it is a lifetime for everyone who lost someone they love during the attacks.

Georgia Consola is a staff writer

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