‘Reclaim that spirit of unity’: DC area remembers 22nd anniversary of 9/11 with memorials, days of service

On Sept. 11, 2001, the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil shook the nation to its core. On the 22nd anniversary of 9/11, many in the D.C. area honored and remembered those who lost their lives in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.

A single bugle scattered the sound of Taps throughout the September air in Woodbridge, Maryland. At the Sean T. Connaughton Community Plaza, Prince William County Board Chair Ann Wheeler read aloud the names of the residents who lost their lives at the Pentagon.

“Prince William County was deeply impacted, with 22 of our residents lost that day, more than any other region in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area,” Wheeler told the crowd.

An American flag, firetrucks and steel beams from the World Trade Center form the 9/11 memorial in at the Sean T. Connaughton Community Plaza in Prince William County, Maryland. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)

Steel beams from the World Trade Center and an American flag flying between two fire trucks served as the backdrop for the memorial.

Don Armstrong with the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association told WTOP that he never misses the ceremony.

Members of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association in front of the 9/11 memorial in Prince William County, Maryland. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)

“This is a day that we can’t forget, ever. It’s just like previous generations with Pearl Harbor. That was this generations’ Pearl Harbor. And we want to make sure they remember the ones that lost their lives on that day,” Armstrong said.

After the ceremony, attendees made their way to a memorial fountain shaped like a pentagon with the 22 names of the dead etched in stone.

A memorial fountain shaped like a Pentagon. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)
A memorial fountain shaped like a Pentagon with 22 names of those who died on 9/11 etched in stone. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)

“Let us make a commitment to be kind to one another, and to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed that tragic day,” Wheeler said.

At the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C., volunteers built on that spirit of unity.

In honor of the victims, families, veterans and volunteers with AmeriCorps packed more than 300,000 meals, ringing a bell each time a box was ready.

Volunteers with AmeriCorps prepare boxes of meals at the D.C. Convention Center during a day of service. (WTOP/Cheyenne Corin)

Nationwide, a bell will be rung more than 6.5 million times throughout the day, as AmeriCorps CEO Michael Smith said he expected that many meals will be packed by volunteers in 18 participating cities across the country.

“Today, we are celebrating the spirit of service,” Smith said. “We of course remember the somber moment that 9/11 was, at the World Trade Center, in Shanksville, but we also celebrate that spirit of unity.”

Volunteers with AmeriCorps prepared more than 300,000 meals at the D.C. Convention Center during a day of service. (WTOP/Cheyenne Corin)

According to Emily Lauer-Bader, director of corporate partnerships at Capital Area Food Bank, all meals will be distributed by local partners working to address hunger and food insecurity.

The spirit of community was not lost on first-time AmeriCorps volunteer Taylor Lawrence.

“I just think that bringing the community that we felt that day, even though it was a moment of fear, now we get to be together in community in a moment of joy and service,” Lawrence said.

Elsewhere in the area, first lady Jill Biden laid a wreath at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the District Council hosted a remembrance ceremony at a D.C. fire station commemorating first responders. George Mason University held a 9/11 day of service in Virginia. And in Hyattsville, Busboys and Poets hosted a veteran open mic, that they described as a tribute to veterans and a celebration of their resilience.

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Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

Cheyenne Corin

Cheyenne Corin is a part-time reporter for WTOP News. She has worked in the Washington, D.C. area since 2020. Before joining WTOP, she worked as a WDVM/DC News Now Montgomery County Bureau Reporter, TheJasmineBrand Entertainment Correspondent and PHL 17 Reporter.

David Andrews

No stranger to local news, David Andrews has contributed to DCist, Greater Greater Washington and was fellow at Washingtonian Magazine. He worked as a photo/videographer for University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

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