Coming Together to Remember 9/11

September 7, 2021  - by 
lights from the 9/11 memorial in remembrance of the tragedy of 9/11.

The year 2021 marks 20 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States of America that shook the world. These attacks, which targeted the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and a third unknown location, resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and affected nearly every member of the world family. As we remember 9/11 two decades later—including the lives lost, the sacrifices made, the selflessness shown, and the heroism that unified the world in a time of unbelievable tragedy—we stop to say thank you.

Thank you to the brave first responders, many of whom gave their lives to save victims of the attacks. Thank you to the families, friends, and loved ones who helped those who needed it most. Thank you to those whose hearts were drawn so close in empathy to everyone who was suffering and in need. We remember you.

To help share goodness in spite of tragedy, we have compiled some ideas to help us and others remember 9/11. Sharing the stories that give us hope can bring joy and comfort.

Remembering Those We Lost on 9/11

Although the exact number of lives lost in the September 11 attacks is not conclusively known, the official number is 2,977. Additionally, over 6,000 victims were injured. More than 78 countries lost citizens to the attacks, and memorials have been constructed worldwide in honor of the fallen.

Remembering tragedy can be painful; in some ways, it can make the loss feel as raw as the first day you felt it. However, there can be healing and strength found in reflection. Celebrating the lives of loved ones, recalling fond memories with them, and recording your experiences with them ensures that their legacy is never forgotten.

Remembering the Heroes of 9/11

Hundreds of people, first responders and ordinary citizens alike, put others before themselves to rescue those who were injured and trapped after the attacks on September 11, 2001. Each of these selfless individuals gave of themselves with no regard for their own safety; some reentered the structurally unsound World Trade Center towers over and over again in their attempts to rescue as many people as possible.

One man, Rick Rescorla, is credited with saving thousands of lives by organizing the evacuation of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Thanks to his actions, over 2,700 people were able to escape.

Members of Flight 93 gave their lives when they fought to regain control of their plane. Though the target of the intended attack is unknown, there is no doubt that the bravery and sacrifice of those on Flight 93 saved numerous innocent lives.

9/11 memorial where the world trade center stood

Remembering How the World Came Together

Shock, horror, and sorrow resounded as the world struggled to grasp why and how the tragedy of 9/11 took place—however, so did love. As the United States grieved, other nations wept with them in touching demonstrations of support and solidarity.  

In France, locals opened their homes to passengers who were stranded when the United States airspace closed after the attacks. Several other countries offered their airspaces and airports to house diverted planes.

Cities and towns across Canada took in passengers from grounded planes until the United States airspace reopened. One of these towns, Gander, Newfoundland, saw its population nearly double with the influx of planes. The community donated food, clothing, and shelter to the “plane people” until they were able to return home.

At Buckingham Palace in the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II broke protocol—something that had never happened before —and had the United States’ national anthem play at the changing of the guard ceremony. In Germany, 200,000 citizens held a memorial service to show their love and sympathy.

The Maasai tribe in Kenya didn’t hear what had happened until months later. However, they still gave what they could to the United States: 14 cows, considered to be incredibly valued and sacred, as a gift to “wipe the tears of the American people.”

an american flag on the 9/11 memorial, in order to remember 9/11

Ways to Remember 9/11

There is no one right way to commemorate or remember 9/11. Perhaps take a moment of quiet reflection. If you haven’t already, write in your journal your memories of the day. If you were born after 9/11 or are too young to have memories of it, ask an older relative, friend, or neighbor what they remember and how they felt about what they were experiencing at the time.

If you want to do more, perhaps do what those who first witnessed the tragedy did: find ways to serve others. Look for volunteer opportunities in your community or start your own project. Reaching out in service to others within your spheres of influence helps build bonds and extend kindness. Both can provide much-needed healing for the giver and the receiver. 

We hope you find inspiration as you discover your own family story and help share your story with future generations.

With our deepest love and kindness,

The FamilySearch family

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  1. On the day of September 11th I was in home alone. My kids were in school, my husband was working. I turn on the T.V. and I was shocked of the News, It terrible. I sat right away, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on T.V. My heart stopped. I cried and for the rest of the day I couldn’t beilive such monstrosity, this was unhuman. I prayed quickly in my heart for a blessing of God for all those people that suffering such terrible tragedy. My heart was in pain for a long time. I’m glad, I know the love of God and his justice. He will judge.

  2. Thank you for this positive accounting of the many ways our beloved country came together, and the kindness people from other lands showed forth, during that great time of mourning. I had never heard about the Maasai Tribe giving us the 14 cows. What a sweet gesture. I wonder what happened to those cows? Perhaps they were placed in a zoo, or some kind of animal sanctuary.
    As for now, kindness and service, are always appropriate, and so needed in these latter-days. I hope this time of remembrance will foster more of those qualities in all of us.

  3. My husband and I were serving our mission at Nauvoo, Illinois, U.S.A. We had just finished breakfast when the phone rang. My daughter, in California, said, “Do you have the TV on? No. Why? In a panicked voice, she said, “Turn it on, turn it on.” Noting the panic in her voice, we found a station that worked and found out about the First Tower, and then watch in horror as the second Tower was hit.
    As a rule the TV was not on. I ran out the door of our apartment, and down the hall to the other missionaries who were serving in Nauvoo and gave them the terrible message. As I was doing this, my stomach had that terrible feeling one gets when one of our own loved ones dies. It took just minutes before the whole mission knew of the terrible tragedy. Needles to say, the tours that were given during the following days were tinged with a degree of sadness. Everyone felt the terrible grief that encompassed the nation. Who says American’s don’t care. They did and do with all of their hearts.

  4. I am sure everyone remembers where they were on that tragic day. America stopped and stood United during the devastation. I was getting ready for work when tragedy struck and we followed the events as they befell. We can never forget that day and still feel the loss. Words cannot describe the tragedy that still haunts us today. I send prayers to those that lost loved ones and prayers for our country.

  5. Thank you for sharing. Loved reading what other countries did to share in that fateful day .And this brought back memories of the coming together of our great nation.??

  6. Thank you for sharing. Loved reading what other countries did to share in that fateful day .And this brought back memories of the coming together of our great nation.??

  7. I am a retired Firefighter and was already to go to New York along with 500 First Responders from my state. As the day got worse I went to my station , my gear by myside and just waiting for the call. Later that evening we were told
    to Stand Down. (a military term). Thank You but you are not needed at this time. Retired Lt. Ken Froberg

  8. I hope that we always remember the day that those innocent men and women died during the attack from the terrorists. I hope we always honor them. May these men and women rest in peace.

  9. I want to thank FamilySearch for the information you included from other countries who watched this a terrible act of terrorism. I was at work when the news quickly traveled throughout the buildings. Many of the employees where saddened by this and many of them cried. My daughter was 17 and they watched on TV at the college she was attending. Right after that she signed up for the U.S. military. She server 1 1/2 years in Iraq. I want to acknowledge those who joined the military to protect our country from this happening again, to the first responders, and to everyone who rendered help during the attack and after the attack to try and locate survivors; Thank You! And for those who suffered the most, you will be remembered and our prayers will be with all those who gave their lives in this tragic act against the U.S.

  10. On the morning of 9/11, I was in the kitchen getting breakfast before we would get into our small plane and head to Utah to visit friends. I ran into our bedroom and told my husband, we’re not going anywhere … all planes grounded … they have hit New York!! He could not comprehend what I was saying until coming into the kitchen and viewing the unbelievable sights. We lost so many of our Americans … heart-rending … but soon the news of all the heroism began coming in. How grateful we became in the next few days for those heroes!

  11. I was a 6th grade teacher in upstate New York and our Class Trip in June each year was to the World Trade Center and the Empire State Building in New York City. I retired in 2001.

  12. I was having a terrible dream and as I started waking up and saw the tv on I realized it wasn’t a dream or a movie it was the news and these planes had crashed and the building went straight down there was no other noise in our usually fun loving noisey house but the reporters voice and the silence from my parents that was alarming.

  13. I remember that I had my a baby girl for 11 days, and I was happy and grateful. At the same time I felt sad because of that injustice tragedy that was happening on that morning on September 11th that day.