On that brilliant blue Tuesday morning 20 years ago, 2,977 people lost their lives to an unspeakable act committed, unbelievably, by hijackers in airplanes. Four everyday flights were used for terrorism—an American Airlines morning flight from Boston to Los Angeles struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City at 8:46 a.m. United Airlines Flight 175 also from Boston bound for L.A. hit the South Tower at 9:03 a.m. Another American flight left Dulles International Airport and was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. The United flight from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco was hijacked and crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 10:03 a.m.
In Herndon, Virginia, the Air Line Pilots Association honors the memory of the 33 crewmembers of these flights in a Remembrance Garden at the 90-year-old association’s headquarters. “This is to the pilots—to honor their professionalism—and it honors all pilots, who face risks every day,” an employee said at the memorial dedication in 2006.
The memorial garden circles a 10-ton stone that has been cleaved in half, symbolizing the forced and ragged break caused in the airline world after 9/11. The stone is from a Shanksville-area quarry and throughout the garden are other Pennsylvania bluestone and limestone rock croppings. There is a piece of the Pentagon’s outer wall, and, like many other memorials across the country and the world, pieces of the World Trade Center—two sections of steel I-beams. Nearly 1,100 pieces of the World Trade Center are preserved at memorials across the world.
Like the ALPA memorial, there are many interpretations of how to honor the fallen. From Staten Island, New York, to Sacramento, California; Plano, Texas, to Kensington, Maryland, memorials are designed for reflection, honor and sacrifice, memory, and tribute in many ways. In the Dayton, Ohio, area alone there are five different memorials. One of the most remarked-upon structures is the 100-foot-tall teardrop memorial at the end of a pier in Bayonne, New Jersey. The bronze slab appears to be torn down the center and a teardrop hangs inside. Like the ALPA memorials, the 9/11 Flight Crew Memorial in Grapevine, Texas, honors the 33 crewmembers. The 14-foot-tall bronze sculpture of captain, first officer, flight attendants, and a child sits atop a compass rose of Texas limestone and a stone column supports a large globe. “Morning Call” is a sculpture featuring an osprey perching on a beam from the World Trade Center. It was originally erected on a dock in Greenport, New York, and is now located in Peconic, New York.