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Lest we forget

Memorials honor the pilots, victims of September 11, 2001

There are more than 700 memorials of every shape, size, and dimension; living gardens and trees; and in materials such as stone, glass, steel, and light across the United States remembering the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The national memorials

  • The national memorials
    The 9/11 memorial at the Airline Pilots Association headquarters in Virginia. Photo by Chris Rose.
  • The national memorials
    Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, features a concrete and glass visitor center overlooking the crash site, including a white marble “Wall of Names” of those who died in Flight 93. There is an observation platform aligned with the flight path. It was dedicated in September 2011. nps.gov/flni (Photograph by David Tulis)
  • The national memorials
    The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial honors the 184 victims killed when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building. It features 184 benches in memory of each of those who died in Arlington, Virginia. It was dedicated September 11, 2008. pentagonmemorial.org
  • The national memorials
    “The Rising” in Valhalla, New York, was built to honor the residents of Westchester County who died on 9/11. The monument includes 109 stainless steel rods ascending from a circular granite base and joined at the top. Architect Frederic Schwartz named his design after the Bruce Springsteen song.
  • The national memorials
    The Boston Logan International Airport 9/11 memorial is a cube of textured glass containing two glazed panels etched with the names of the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 175 and American Airlines Flight 11, which both took off from the airport. The memorial was designed by Moskow Linn Architects.
  • The national memorials
    “Reflect” is a memorial in Rosemead, California, that features almost 3,000 stainless steel bird cutouts shaped into hands that hold a 10-foot-long rusted I-beam from the World Trade Center. Designed by Heath Satow. (Heath Satow)

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.

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Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

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