What seemed like an average morning in New York City quickly transformed into a world of terror. On the morning of September 11, 2001, nineteen al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four passenger airplanes. The hijackers intentionally crashed two planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City (the North Tower at 8:46 a.m. and the South Tower at 9:03 a.m.). Both towers collapsed within two hours.
The hijackers then crashed a third plane at 9:37 a.m. into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. When passengers on board Flight 93 attempted to take over the plane (which was believed to have been headed for the Capitol or the White House in Washington D.C.), it crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 innocent Americans perished in the attacks.
Though residents of Southern California were far from the danger of these attacks, many still felt paralyzed by fear, as did the rest of the country. After all, three out of the four hijacked airplanes were headed for the Los Angeles International Airport while Flight 93 was headed for San Francisco!
I asked several residents in the Long Beach and surrounding cities what color they would use to describe that day. They were what I call colors of agony: Black for a dark day, Ash Gray representing steel and dust, Fiery Red for the anger felt and the blood spilled.
One resident who wishes to remain anonymous shared an ironic and compelling story with me. She is a retired employee of the El Segundo location of Raytheon, a company that specializes in defense technology for homeland and border security. She informed me that the three planes headed for Los Angeles on 9/11/01 carried five Raytheon employees:
1) Stanley Hall (Flight 77) was director of program management for Raytheon Electronics Warfare.
2) Peter Gay (Flight 11) was Raytheon’s Vice President of Operations for Electronic Systems and had been on special assignment to a company office in El Segundo, Calif.
3) Kenneth Waldie (Flight 11) was a senior quality control engineer for Raytheon’s Electronic Systems.
4) David Kovalcin (Flight 11) was a senior mechanical engineer for Raytheon’s Eectronic Systems. [
5) Herbert Homer (Flight 175) was the DCMA’s Defense Corporate Executive assigned to Raythoen Company.
The anonymous source recalls “the company planted some trees in their memory at the employee park in El Segundo” and that there were “increased security inspections to drive onto company property and no parking allowed next to buildings” as a result of the terrorist attacks.
The matter of security has become a major concern for many Americans. Statistics show that in 2001, home security installations had grown into an $11.1 billion business, up 9.9 percent from the $6.9 billion amount five years earlier. The security industry continues to thrive in a post-9/11 environment with everyone from big businesses to private residences improving or adding new security systems.
That day of terror has rocked the souls of the United States of America and will forever be an impact on the daily lives of those who were there to witness it. Although American forces have assassinated the culprit behind the attacks, many Americans do not feel that justice has been served or the closure they hoped to receive. The pain caused by this horrible tragedy will linger for years to come. But we are Americans and we live on. We move forward. We will NOT surrender to terror!
So how do we as Americans move forward? How do we humbly remember and honor those lost on that day? Architect Michael Arad, together with landscape architect Peter Walker and architect Daniel Libeskind, has answered that question. These collaborating architects have designed a transformation of the site where so many innocent Americans lost their lives. “If this was a scar, and the fabric of the city was scarred, I felt it should be mended back to the life of the city, not erased,” Arad says. “Not celebrated as a scar but allowed to heal back.”
The National 9/11 Memorial occupies about half of the 16-acre World Trade Center site with four towers in various stages of construction. Included is a plaza with over 400 swamp white oak trees, an area that will serve as a green roof over an underground museum designed by Aedas Architects with an entrance pavilion designed by the Norwegian firm Snohetta.
Most profound is that the footprints of the original World Trade Center towers have been transformed into two square, below-ground reflecting pools, each nearly an acre, fed from all sides by waterfalls that begin just above ground level and bordered by bronze panels inscribed with the names of those who perished on those grounds as well as in Washington and Pennsylvania.
The National 9/11 Memorial is scheduled to open on 9/11/2011, the 10th anniversary since the attacks, as a ceremony for the victims’ families and will publicly open the following day. The National 9/11 Museum is scheduled to open in September of 2012.
I asked the same residents of the Long Beach area and surrounding cities what color they would use to describe the future of America after the attacks on 9/11/01. They were what I call colors of hope: Green for life and hope, White for moving forward, and American Flag Blue for freedom.
Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. – George W. Bush