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9/11 Two Decades Later: The Heroes and Victims

Never forgetting those who lost their lives and the heroes who helped rescue the victims.

By:  |  September 11, 2021  |    654 Words
GettyImages-1228528514 9-11 memorial

(Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

It is the 20-year anniversary of 9/11, a horrifying day where thousands lost their lives during a terrorist attack on American soil. On September 11, 2001, the Twin Towers went up in flames after two planes crashed into them. On that day, people across the nation and the world came together to help during the tragedy. Now, two decades later, we honor those who gave their lives and those who put their lives on the line to rescue victims.


Firefighters were sent to the scene and many volunteered to help get people out of the buildings. Their deaths impacted their children.

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Today, a total of 65 on-duty members of the New York Fire Department lost their fathers due to 9/11, either from the attack or dying later from diseases that were caused by the toxic smoke at Ground Zero. These children grew up to become first responders as well, in honor of their fallen fathers.

“Knowing what happened that day, it just shows their bravery and willingness to face those challenges,” said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro.

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum

A collection of about 22,000 personal artifacts from victims of 9/11 are on display at memorial museums. They consist of items including wallets and passports, baseball gloves, and carpenter tools. “Each person who makes up part of that tally was an individual who lived a life,” the museum’s chief curator and director of collections, Jan Ramirez, said.

Sean Rooney was a construction worker who died in the South Tower.  While trapped by fire and smoke on the 105th floor, he called his wife, Beverly Eckert, to say, “I love you.” His body was never found.

His sister-in-law, Margo Eckert, said he was “a builder.” She donated carpenter’s tools to the museum as a “perfect antidote to the destruction.”

Rescue Dogs

GettyImages-1164944-min 9/11 funeral

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Gettyimages)

Around 300 search dogs were used to help locate people who might be trapped under debris. One such dog was Bretagne (pronounced Brittany), a golden retriever. She continued her rescue work even after September 11, helping victims of Hurricane Katrina, and later, when she retired, Bretagne assisted children in school while they read books aloud. She died in 2016 and was the last of the search dogs who helped during the 9/11 tragedy.

Help Pours In

One of the amazing things that happened during 9/11 was the coming together of so many people to help others. One example is mariners who volunteered their boats and services to evacuate nearly 500,000 from southern Manhattan. “It was like a traffic jam, but full of boats on the water,” said one woman who was rescued. “It was amazing how many people came to the rescue of those of us stranded in lower Manhattan.”

The Search Continues

Unfortunately, even 20 years later, not all of the victims have been identified, despite constant efforts. However, just days before the anniversary, two more victims have been named. Dorothy Morgan of Hempstead, NY, is the 1,646th victim to be identified through the analysis of DNA recovered from the World Trade Center. The second person is a male whose identity was not released at his family’s request.

“Twenty years ago, we made a promise to the families of World Trade Center victims to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to identify their loved ones, and with these two new identifications, we continue to fulfill that sacred obligation,” explained Dr. Barbara A. Sampson, chief medical examiner New York City.

This was the first identification in two years, and there are still more than 1,100 victims who remain unidentified. “No matter how much time passes since September 11, 2001, we will never forget, and we pledge to use all the tools at our disposal to make sure all those who were lost can be reunited with their families.”

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