Patriot Day: How you can honor 9/11
The events of September 11, 2001, will forever be a solemn day in history. Marking the deadliest attack on American soil, Patriot Day honors the 2,977 people who lost their lives as a result of terrorism in New York, D.C., and Pennsylvania. In the twenty-two years since this tragedy, 9/11 has become a day of remembering the victims and striving towards a better and safer tomorrow. Read on to learn more about Patriot Day, the events of 9/11, changes on the world since, and how you can honor those we lost.
Patriot Day is a national holiday in the United States, dedicated to commemorating the lives of those who died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, DC., and the plane crash of hijacked Flight 93 in Pennsylvania, on September 11, 2001. The holiday also recognizes those who died attempting to rescue people trapped or injured by the attacks.
What is Patriot Day & National Day of Service and Remembrance?
By joint resolution on December 18, 2001, Congress declared September 11 to be Patriot Day. On this day all flags are to be flown at half-staff, and a moment of silence is honored at 8:46 am EST, the same time that the first plane struck the World Trade Center.
On April 21, 2009, Congress expanded on this holiday by also asking Americans to observe September 11 as a “National Day of Service and Remembrance.” 9/11 is now not just a holiday for remembering those who were lost, but also giving back to the community, volunteering, and helping those in need.
A Brief Timeline of September 11, 2001Below a brief timeline following the attacks on the morning of September 11, 2001.
7:59 am: Flight 11 takes off from Boston: 11 crew members, 76 passengers, and 5 hijackers are on board
8:15 am: Flight 175 takes off from Boston. 9 crew members, 51 passengers, and 5 hijackers are on board.
8:20 am: Flight 77 takes off from Washington Dulles International Airport. 6 crew members, 53 passengers, and 5 hijackers are on board.
8:42 am: Flight 93 takes off from Newark International Airport. 7 crew members, 33 passengers, and 4 hijackers are on board.
8:46 am: 5 hijackers crash Flight 11 into floors 93 – 99 of 1 World Trade Center (North Tower), in New York City.
9:03 am: 5 hijackers crash Flight 175 into floors 77 through 85 of 2 World Trade Center (South Tower), in New York City.
9:05 am: President Bush is informed of the attacks and tells Americans, “Terrorism against our nation will not stand.”
9:37 am: Flight 77 crashes into the western side of the Pentagon in Washington, DC.
9:59 am: After burning for 56 minutes, the South Tower collapses. More than 800 people inside the building and in the surrounding area are killed.
10:03 am: 4 hijackers crash Flight 93 in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after passengers and crew storm the cockpit, attempting to thwart their hijackers. The flight was intended to also hit Washington, DC.
10:38 am: The North Tower collapses after burning for 102 minutes. More than 1,600 people are killed.
Over the next several days firefighters, police, and other emergency personnel would sift through the rubble looking for survivors. A total of 2,753 people were killed in the attacks at the World Trade Center, 184 people at the Pentagon, and all 40 people on board the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania.
The months following the attacks were spent cleaning up the ruined buildings and recovering remains. It wasn’t until December 19, 2001, that all fires were declared extinguished at the World Trade Center site. On May 30, 2002, the last remaining column of the Twin Towers was removed, marking the completion of the major cleanup.
Repairing, Rebuilding & Remembering
The 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center was dedicated on the 10th anniversary in 2011. The National September 11 Memorial Museum was opened on May 15, 2014. There are also memorials in Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 crashed, and at the Pentagon, and Arlington National Cemetery. Artifacts from the wreckage, including structural steel from the Twin Towers, were distributed to all 50 states and around the world to be included at memorials for those lost. Most of the artifacts went to fire and emergency response agencies in towns across the country, with many being in New York and New Jersey, as their residents made up the majority of those who perished.
Effects of 9/11 in the world
- The United States entered into its longest conflict, the War on Terrorism, which was a controversial counterterrorism campaign mainly focused in the Middle East. The campaign eventually dismantled much of the al-Qaeda network, the extremist-terrorist organization behind the 9/11 attacks, including eliminating its founder, Osama bin Laden, in 2011. The US withdrew the last of its Armed Forces from Afghanistan on August 30, 2021.
- Changes in travel security were significant after 2001. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was formed in November of that year, transforming the way that people fly on airlines. Before 9/11, airport security was contracted to private companies and only 5% of checked bags were screened for dangerous materials. Now 50,000 TSA agents screen nearly two million travelers and their luggage every day. In just the first ten years, the TSA detected 50 million prohibited items, including 5,000 firearms. While the security process can be inconvenient for travelers, and expensive to maintain, it has been successful at preventing more terrorism.
- Another significant change has been to communication networks. In the days following September 11, 2001, phone lines were completely jammed and therefore useless to authorities. Radios and repeaters did little to help because they did not work across agencies. This significantly slowed down communication between first responders. Organizing and lobbying led to an allocation of $7 billion and 20 megahertz of broadband spectrum in 2012, dedicated to establishing a network for first responders. The FirstNet Authority is a network operated for and by First Responders, that works across agencies, and ensures that communication for firefighters, police, and other emergency personnel, will always be accessible.
Honoring Patriot Day: how to celebrate
- Observe a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. EST
o This is the moment that the first plane struck the Twin Towers and is observed nationwide in schools, businesses, and at 9/11 memorials.
- Visit a 9/11 memorial
o The New York, DC, and Pennsylvania memorials each have services and name-readings for the victims every year, but you may have a memorial even closer to you. Local memorials, often in communities that lost people to the attacks, will also have services and dedications.
- Join a stair climb challenge
o You can honor the first responders who gave their lives by climbing 110 stories, the equivalent of the highest point in the World Trade Center. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation sponsors many stair climbs. Find a stair climb event near you: Stair Climbs by Date - National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (firehero.org)
- Run in a 9/11 Heroes Run
o The Travis Manion Foundation sponsor 9/11 Heroes Runs across the nation to honor the heroes who helped and lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Find the nearest Heroes Run: 9/11 Heroes Run (travismanion.org)
o To honor the National Day of Service and Remembrance, you can volunteer with local causes in need. AmeriCorps has set up a dedicated page specifically for 9/11 volunteer opportunities: 9/11 Day | AmeriCorps
“Never forget,” has become the motto of Patriot Day, encompassing the raw emotion felt by the nation after the attacks, to push forward but always remember. On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks President Biden said, “Each year on this somber date, we remember the horror and bravery shown that day, just as we remember how we came together, united in grief and in purpose.” On September 11, 2023, we again vow to Never Forget the tragic events of 2001, but always strive for a brighter, safer future.
Never Forget: the motto of Patriot Day
- Patriot Day | United States holiday | Britannica
- A Proclamation on Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance, 2021 - The White House
- war on terrorism | Summary & Facts | Britannica
- A Guide to Honoring 9/11 in Your Community | National September 11 Memorial & Museum (911memorial.org)
- Remembering September 11: Patriot Day | Military.com
- 9/11 Memorial Timeline (911memorial.org)
- 9/11 to today: Ways we have changed | PBS NewsHour
- Honoring First Responders on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 | U.S. Department of Commerce
- World Trade Center: 16 years after 9/11, pieces live worldwide (northjersey.com)
- How 9/11 Changed the Way we Travel (ibtimes.com)