(Washington, DC) Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser joined members of the Council of the District of Columbia, local public safety officials, and members of the interfaith community to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. They gathered in a solemn ceremony outside of DC Fire and EMS Engine 16. Among the nearly 3,000 lives lost as a result of the terrorist attacks were 11 Washingtonians and many other members of the DC community, including the unconscionable loss of three District of Columbia Public School students, all only eleven years old. The students, along with three of their teachers and two members of the National Geographic Society, were embarking upon a field trip to a Marine Sanctuary in California when their flight crashed into the Pentagon.
“Our hearts were heavy on the morning of September 11, and to this day, they remain heavy for the lives we lost that day, including Bernard, Asia, and Rodney – three precious students who left us much too soon, and for the sacrifices that have since been made in war,” said Mayor Bowser. “And while so much of what we remember of that day is the uncertainty, the confusion, and utter heartbreak, we also remember the bravery. We remember the bravery of our firefighters and officers, of our emergency management teams, of our DC Air National guard, and of the passengers and crew members aboard United Flight 93 whose heroism and sacrifice saved our city and our nation from an even darker day in history. Today, we remain grateful for our public safety teams, including DC HSEMA, who work around the clock, hand in hand with our federal and regional partners, to protect DC residents, visitors, our national leaders, and our nation’s democracy.”
Mayor Bowser and councilmembers laid two wreaths at the foot of a piece of steel from the World Trade Center outside the firehouse on 13th Street Northwest. The steel, part of a diminishing stockpile of building remnants from 9/11, was donated to the District by the Tunnels to Towers Foundation and will eventually be permanently placed at the DC Fire and EMS Department’s Training Academy in Ward 8.
“We were entrusted with this piece of steel because of the grit, courage, and dedication that our firefighters and EMS providers displayed at the Pentagon and across the city on 9/11,” said Fire Chief John Donnelly, Sr. “We remember and honor the 343 of our brothers and sisters who were lost at the World Trade Center.”
During today’s ceremony, there was reflection upon how dramatically that day transformed Homeland Security efforts in the District. In 2006, the DC Council enacted the Homeland Security, Risk Reduction, and Preparedness Amendment Act changing the name of the DC Emergency Management Agency to the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, known today as HSEMA. Since 2001, HSEMA has administered approximately $1.4 billion in federal grants to build and sustain the capabilities necessary to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism and other threats.
“This particular milestone compels us to remember how important it is to prepare for the unexpected,” said Dr. Christopher Rodriguez, Director of the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. “Through our efforts in sharing threat information, assessing and mitigating vulnerabilities, supporting business and nonprofits, and promoting individual preparedness, we want to be sure our city can withstand anything that comes our way.”
Today’s ceremony was an interfaith embracing of the families of the eleven Washingtonians and three DC Public Schools teachers who lost their lives aboard Flight 77 and at the Pentagon:
Paul Ambrose, 32, Office of the Surgeon General – Flight 77
Bernard Curtis Brown II, 11, Leckie Elementary School – Flight 77
David M. Charlebois, 39, American Airlines Employee – Flight 77
Sara M. Clark, 65, Bertie Backus Middle School – Flight 77
Asia S. Cottom, 11, Bertie Backus Middle School – Flight 77
James Debeuneure, 58, Ketcham Elementary School – Flight 77
Rodney Dickens, 11, Ketcham Elementary School – Flight 77
James Joseph Ferguson, 39, National Geographic Society – Flight 77
Carolyn B. Halmon, 49, U.S. Army – Pentagon
Brenda Kegler, 49, U.S. Army – Pentagon
Karen Ann Kincaid, 40, Wiley Rein and Fielding – Flight 77
Major Ronald Milam, 33, U.S. Army – Pentagon
Edna L. Stephens, 53, U.S. Army – Pentagon
Hilda E. Taylor, 58, Leckie Elementary School – Flight 77
Ann Judge, Travel Director for National Geographic, was a resident of Great Falls, VA, and also a passenger on Flight 77.
Mayor Bowser also proclaimed today a Day of Remembrance and called on Washingtonians to pause, honor, and remember the nearly 3,000 souls who perished at the World Trade Center, on a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.