The 21st anniversary of 9/11 reminds the nation to never forget.
This past Sunday marked the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was the day that Americans across the country stopped and remembered those who lost their lives or gave their lives rescuing others in the tragedy.
Memorials were held all across the country, but in particular, at each attack site: the National Sept. 11 Memorial in New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. By tradition, there were no political speakers at the National Sept. 11 Memorial; however, Vice President Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff were present. There, during the ceremony, loved ones of the victims read names and shared stories and expressions of their emotions and thoughts.
“You’re always in my heart. And I know you are watching over me,” said a nephew of a firefighter who died saving others in the attack, according to CBS News.
At the Pentagon, President Joe Biden gave some remarks at the memorial ceremony. He acknowledged the passage of time, saying that “for all those of you who lost someone, 21 years is both a lifetime and no time at all,” according to the speech released by the White House.
He also said that “The American story — the American story itself changed that day. But what we did change — what we will not change, what we cannot change, never will, is the character of this nation that the terrorists thought they could wound.”
President Biden also mentioned the 10 years that it took for the U.S. to kill Osama bin Laden. Then, Biden focused on the recent drone strike by the U.S., which killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, another key member of the terrorist organization al Qaeda, according to CSB News. While Biden brought these instances up as victories against those who were responsible for 9/11, he said that they would not rest, would never forget and never give up in the task of bringing to justice those responsible for the tragedy.
Another way that loved ones of victims are getting one more step nearer to closure is through the ongoing work by forensic investigators trying to identify ground zero victims of the attacks.
In a special section of the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum, there is a repository of the remains of unidentified victims. This gives the loved ones of victims who have not been identified somewhere to go to commemorate them. According to ABC News, out of the 2,753 people killed in the World Trade Center attacks, around 60%, or 1,647, have been identified. In the aftermath of the attack, according to what the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) told ABC News, the bodies of the victims were badly deteriorated and remains were still being discovered as far as 2006.
The forensic team at OCME is still working on identifying these victims by testing the remains in their lab in Manhattan. They have been working for the past 21 years and have continued to identify new victims regularly. There are still 1,106 victims who are unidentified but the two most recent identifications by the OCME team were last year.
Mark Desire, the assistant director of OCME’s department of forensic biology, said to ABC News that “We provide answers…It’s our job. Our job is, our job isn’t to bring closure. That’s up to the family to decide.”
For many loved ones of victims, 21 years seems like no time at all since they lost the ones so important to them. They still ask that America honors those fallen victims by promising to continue to never forget.