On September 11, 2001, and in the days that followed, our nation came together in a spirit of unity and resolve as we struggled, with profound shock and overwhelming grief, to comprehend the single largest loss of life from a foreign attack on American soil.
This morning, we stand together at the 9/11 Memorial to remember the nearly 3,000 innocent men, women, and children killed in the attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and aboard Flight 93, which crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The annual commemoration, centered on the reading of their names, will begin at 8:40 a.m. I invite you to share in this sacred day of remembrance by watching the ceremony live on our website and joining with others on social media in observance of the anniversary, using #Honor911.
Among those reading the names today are children of the victims, some too young to have a memory of the morning that changed their lives forever. They know all too well the imperative of remembering those who were killed. Many have chosen to honor their loved ones and recognize the courageous actions of those who risked their lives to help others, through their own acts of service.
One of them is Jerry D'Amadeo who was just 10 years old on 9/11 when his father, Vincent Gerard D'Amadeo, was killed in the North Tower. Jerry honored the memory of his dad by working with children affected by the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Last year, as a participant in the names reading for the 15th anniversary of 9/11, he reflected that "sometimes the bad things in our lives put us on the path to where we should be going — to help others as many have helped me."
I am always moved when I meet young people like Jerry, who are dedicated to volunteering and public service as their way of commemorating the lives of those who were killed. We were lucky enough to have Jerry join the Museum staff as a member of our Visitor Services team. Every day, he facilitates meaningful encounters with the history presented here, forging a personal link between that history and visitors from around the world.
Our staff is keenly aware of how vitally important it is to convey the significance of 9/11 to young people who will inherit a world defined in so many ways by the events of that terrible day. Later today, our educators will host a webinar about 9/11 that will reach nearly 100,000 students in all 50 states and in schools around the globe — one of many educational programs we offer throughout the year for school children to instill a deeper understanding of the relevance of 9/11 in their lives.
We do all this in tribute to those whose names we will speak out loud today in a powerful act of shared commemoration. Throughout the year, we pledge to follow the inspiring example set by Jerry and others like him to remember the enormity of what was lost, uphold the promise never to forget, and pay attention, as Jerry observed, to "where we should be going" — through actions and commitments that affirm a positive legacy of service.
With sincere respect and warm regards,
Alice M. Greenwald
President & CEO
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