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On September 11 we remember the sacrifices of U.S. citizens and service members on the day that is forever burned into our hearts and minds.
As the towers fell, the Pentagon burned and the ground smoldered in that rural Pennsylvania field, our nation rallied to stand arm-in-arm.
Each year on 9/11, officially designated Patriot Day, we stand together again and proclaim "never forget."
Twenty years after 9/11, Wills and 105 others injured at the Pentagon still bear the effects of TBIs, lung damage, burns, musculoskeletal injuries and missing limbs. At least several have been diagnosed with PTSD or depression.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 77 was scheduled to head from Washington Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia to Los Angeles International Airport.
It never made it.
Instead, sometime between 8:51 and 8:54 a.m., the Boeing 757 was hijacked by five men and, at 9:37 a.m., flown into the western side of the Pentagon. The last communication from the plane to air traffic control was at 8:50 a.m. Two passengers made phone calls from the plane after the hijacking and before it struck the Pentagon, including flight attendant Renee May and Barbara Olson, a TV commentator and spouse of the United States Solicitor General.
The hijacking and subsequent crash were the third of the day. At 8:46 a.m. and 9:03 a.m. respectively, two Boeing 767 planes were flown into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. A fourth aircraft, a Boeing 757, crashed at 10:03 a.m. into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers tried to subdue the hijackers.
The plane that crashed into the Pentagon killed 189 people, including 55 military members and 70 civilians inside the Pentagon. Sixty-four people on the aircraft, including five children, died.
We remember 9/11 as a day of heroes. Countless men and women at both the Pentagon and World Trade Center, including local fire and police forces, military members and civilian Defense Department employees, rushed toward the smoke and fire, ignoring their own safety in an attempt to rescue others.
Although officials initially estimated Pentagon repairs would take three years, the reconstruction was completed by the first anniversary on Sept. 11, 2002.
The outdoor memorial on the Pentagon grounds to those who died during the Pentagon attack in both the plane and the building was dedicated Sept. 11, 2008. A memorial at nearby Arlington National Cemetery also honors those killed in the attack, as do several panels at the National September 11 Memorial in New York.