The District will remember the tragedy of the September 11, 2001, attacks with several events including an address by Robert J. Contee III, chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia.
Contee will speak on Sunday, Sept. 11, during a memorial service honoring law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty as well as those who died as a consequence of their heroic actions on that day 21 years ago. A service project will take place later that day, designed to help law enforcement officers and first responders in need.
The service, sponsored by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, will start at 8:46 – the time when the first of four planes, a Boeing 767 jet, flew into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.
On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists, using airplanes as a weapon, attacked the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and damaged the southwest portion of the Pentagon in Arlington County, Va.
That same day, a United Airlines plane bound for San Francisco from Newark, N.J., crashed near Shanksville, Pa., when several passengers attempted to stop terrorists onboard the flight. Later evidence would suggest that the plane’s intended target was either the U.S. Capitol or the White House.
Almost 3,000 people died as a result of the attacks, including D.C. public school students and teachers Asia Cotton, Bernard Brown, Rodney Dickens, Hilda Taylor, James Debeuneure and Sarah Clark.
Contee said he looks forward to honoring his fallen comrades.
“The memories of that day remain vivid, so it is hard to believe that it’s been over two decades since our nation was ambushed on the morning of September 11, 2001,” the chief said in a statement. “Many first responders did not have the opportunity to return home to their families, instead leaving a legacy of selflessness.”
“This year, I am honored to be commemorating those who sacrificed their lives on that day but will also take the opportunity to acknowledge the brave law enforcement officers and first responders that tirelessly serve communities every day. Their courage and fearlessness are a reminder that the American resolve to protect our country, every time our service members put on their uniform, is strong and absolute,” Contee said.
The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Va., will hold a ceremony remembering the fateful day on Friday, Sept. 9 and on the following Sunday there will be an observance with a spiritual focus beginning at noon.
On Monday, Sept. 12, the District, under the aegis of Serve DC, will hold its annual 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance Meal Packaging Event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest. Volunteers can sign up for two available shifts: 7 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser had indicated that she will participate in the event.
Brandon Andrews, a Ward 5 resident, has volunteered in previous 9/11 meal packaging events.
“The meal packing process works like an assembly line,” Andrews said. “You spend a few hours making meals for the needy. Then you put the meals on a pallet and they are shipped out.”
On its website, Serve DC said it expects to engage over 1,000 volunteers from corporations to pack more than 185,000 meals for families in the Washington, D.C. area.
Andrews said the activity effectively serves the purpose for remembering 9/11.
“That was a tragic day in our country’s history,” he said. “There’s a lot of emotion tied to it. That emotion can be used to help someone else who is in need.”