National

Remembering 9/11: 15 Years Later

On Sunday, the National Museum of American History will feature a one-day exhibit (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) in Flag Hall, displaying more than 35 objects from the three sites, New York, The Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa. — part of its commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Some of the objects that will be displayed include: airplane fragments, lights from a crushed FDNY fire truck, a flight attendant’s handbook from Flight 93, clothing and equipment from first responders and items recovered from offices at the Pentagon.

That day, September 11, 2001, often referred to as 9/11, will forever be etched in the minds of Americans and the world – a day when a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks led by 19 members of the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger airlines to initiate their suicide mission.

In the end, 2,996 people died, over 6,000 required medical treatment for their injuries, property and infrastructure damage totaled at least $10 billion. As for firefighters and law enforcement officials, 9/11 has become the deadliest incident in U.S. history, with 343 and 72 killed, respectively.

To honor the thousands who lost their lives numerous memorials have been constructed, including the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington and the Flight 93 National Memorial in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

A Review of the Attacks

Twin brothers Art and Scott Powell, natives of Pittsburgh, lived and often worked together before Scott tragically lost his life during the attacks at the Pentagon on 9/11. (Courtesy of Art Powell)
Twin brothers Art and Scott Powell, natives of Pittsburgh, lived and often worked together before Scott tragically lost his life during the attacks at the Pentagon on 9/11. (Courtesy of Art Powell)

Terrorists aimed two of the planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, at the North and South towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Within an hour and 42 minutes, both 110-story towers had collapsed, causing significant damage to 10 other large surrounding structures. A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, was deliberately crashed into the Pentagon, while a fourth plane, Flight 93, crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The flight had initially been steered toward Washington, D.C. before several passengers attempted to regain control of the plane from the hijackers.

Since the attacks of 9/11, the banner of national security has led to intense monitoring of the politics of Muslim and Arab Americans and an unprecedented rise in hate crimes aimed at Muslims.

One Maryland Family’s Pain

For the Powell family, originally from Pittsburgh, 9/11 was much more than a moment in American history. They would lose a member of their family – a brother, a son, Scott.

Twin brother Art described his feelings.

Art Powell, a Pittsburgh native now living in Fulton, Maryland, sits in reflection over the death of his twin brother, Scott, who died in the 9/11 attacks. (Courtesy of Art Powell)
Art Powell, a Pittsburgh native now living in Fulton, Maryland, sits in reflection over the death of his twin brother, Scott, who died in the 9/11 attacks. (Courtesy of Art Powell)

“I was overseas in London when it happened — I was touring with a band,” said Art, 50, who now lives in Fulton, Maryland and works as an IT specialist.

“We continue to deal with it one day at a time. My brother and I shared a lot together — an apartment in Silver Spring, a music production business on the side and a real bond. The hardest thing initially was returning to our apartment and realizing that he would never come through that front door again.”

“There’s a mysterious nature that accompanies the sudden loss of someone you love. For several years I could not bring myself to be part of the memorial service held annually at the Pentagon. Eventually I realized that I needed to participate in order to support my three older siblings, my parents and other friends and family. More than that, I have learned that we need to find ways to view all humans as our brothers and sisters — as members of the human family — no matter what our differences,” he said.

“When true compassion and enlightenment becomes our mantra, maybe we’ll be able to respect others and how they view the world. Our family had to find a way to move on. Some of our friends said if they had their way, they’d bomb those folks back into the Stone Age. We realized that was not what we, nor Scott would have wanted. That would not have helped us heal,” he said.

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D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Award-winning journalist and 21-year Black Press veteran, book editor, voice-over specialist and college instructor (Philosophy, Religion, Journalism). Before joining us, he led the Miami Times to recognition as NNPA Publication of the Year.

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