DC-area leaders reflect on Sept. 11 attack on 20th anniversary

More than 200 Arlington first responders paid tribute to fallen first responders by laying roses on charred piece of steel from ground zero in NY. Many of them were at the Pentagon that day.

Up to 700 volunteers worked in shifts assembling 200,000 meals destined for area foodbanks.

Fmr. Battalion Chief Dale Smith placing rose on charred steel from ground zero. WTOP/Gigi Barnett

Up to 700 volunteers worked in shifts assembling 200,000 meals destined for area foodbanks.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk to board Air Force One at Pennsylvania Army Air National Guard Base in Johnstown, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. The Bidens are en route to Washington after visiting the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A sky diver lands on the field with an oversized United States flag prior to the start of an NCAA college football game between Northwestern and Indiana State in Evanston, Ill, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

Former President Donald Trump visits the Engine Co. 8 firehouse where he praised first responders’ bravery while criticizing President Joe Biden over the pullout from Afghanistan, Saturday Sept. 11, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Jill Colvin)

A red, white and blue ribbon, to mark Sept. 11, 2001 anniversary, marks the field near the Texas A&M bench before an NCAA college football game against Colorado, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

President Joe Biden speaks to people as he visits the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department in Shanksville, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. Biden stopped by after visiting the nearby Flight 93 National Memorial to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Mourners stand at the rim of the north pool with the white World Trade Center Oculus in the background after the conclusion of ceremonies to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Council of the District of Columbia joined first responders and officers in commemorating the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Council of the District of Columbia joined first responders and officers in commemorating the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

A trumpeter plays “Taps” beside the north pool at the conclusion of ceremonies to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

People tie ribbons to the fence at St. Paul’s Chapel near the National September 11 Memorial & Museum during a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, hand over heart, at a ceremony remembering the 3,000 lost and the first responders who entered the Pentagon 20 years ago.

Former President George W. Bush, right, wipes his eyes next to former first lady Laura Bush, after he spoke at a memorial for the passengers and crew of United Flight 93, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Shanksville, Pa., on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees and guests take part in a moment of silence during an event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Springfield, Va. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden lay a wreath at the Wall of Names during a visit to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. The Bidens visited to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A shadow of a rose is projected onto a flag held by Germano Rivera by the north pool during ceremonies to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

On the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, an Alexandria fire station hosts Sen. Tim Kaine and Terry McAuliffe for a ceremony remembering that tragic day.

On the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, an Alexandria fire station hosts Sen. Tim Kaine and Terry McAuliffe for a ceremony remembering that tragic day.

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff attend a memorial for the passengers and crew of United Flight 93, Saturday Sept. 11, 2021, in Shanksville, Pa., on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland and Gordon Felt, brother of Edward Porter Felt and President of Familes for Flight 93, are right.

April Horton, left, Blake Edward Schaffer, 10, and Andrea Stauter, right, sisters and nephew of Petty Officer First Class Edward Earhart, who was killed in the Pentagon on 9/11, pose for a family photo following an observance ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, on the morning of the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Nephew Blake Edward Schaffer was named honoring Earhart.

A screen displays a video of former President George W. Bush during an event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Springfield, Va.

Bagpipers stand at attention during ceremonies to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York.

A member of FDNY rings a bell during the singing of the National Anthem at the annual 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum on September 11, 2021 in New York City. During the ceremony, six moments of silence were held, marking when each of the World Trade Center towers was struck and fell and the times corresponding to the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93. The nation is marking the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, when the terrorist group al-Qaeda flew hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center, Shanksville, PA and the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin speaks during a remembrance ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, at the Pentagon in Washington, DC on September 11, 2021. – America marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11 Saturday with solemn ceremonies given added poignancy by the recent chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and return to power of the Taliban. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Bruce Springsteen performs during the annual 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum on September 11, 2021 in New York City. During the ceremony six moments of silence were held, marking when each of the World Trade Center towers was struck and fell and the times corresponding to the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93. The nation is marking the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, when the terrorist group al-Qaeda flew hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center, Shanksville, PA and the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

(L-R) Former President Bill Clinton, former First Lady Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama, President Joe Bien, First Lady Jill Biden, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg’s partner Diana Taylor, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) stand for the national anthem during the annual 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum on September 11, 2021 in New York City. During the ceremony six moments of silence were held, marking when each of the World Trade Center towers was struck and fell and the times corresponding to the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93. The nation is marking the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, when the terrorist group al-Qaeda flew hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center, Shanksville, PA and the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (C) attends the annual 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum on September 11, 2021 in New York City. During the ceremony six moments of silence were held, marking when each of the World Trade Center towers was struck and fell and the times corresponding to the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93. The nation is marking the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, when the terrorist group al-Qaeda flew hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center, Shanksville, PA and the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Delegates from the United States Embassy including Acting Ambassador, Philip T Reeker (L), Charge d’Affaires, attend the changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle to mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks in the US, on September 11, 2021. – In a royal tribute to the dead, who included 67 Britons, the US anthem was played on Saturday by fur-hatted Welsh Guards at the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Windsor Castle. (Photo by Steve Parsons / POOL / AFP) (Photo by STEVE PARSONS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

A beam of light is visible over the Lincoln Memorial, the day before the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as part of the Towers of Light Tribute, Friday Sept. 10, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Pentagon
An American flag is unfurled at the Pentagon in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at sunrise on the morning of the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The American flag is draped over the site of impact at the Pentagon. In the foreground, the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, opened in 2008 adjacent to the site, commemorates the lives lost at the Pentagon and onboard American Airlines Flight 77. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

An American flag hangs from the side of the Pentagon to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, on September 11, 2021, in Washington,DC. – America marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11 Saturday with solemn ceremonies given added poignancy by the recent chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and return to power of the Taliban. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

An American flag is unfurled at the Pentagon in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at sunrise on the morning of the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The American flag is draped over the site of impact at the Pentagon. In the foreground, the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, opened in 2008 adjacent to the site, commemorates the lives lost at the Pentagon and onboard American Airlines Flight 77. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A rose is seen at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial that commemorates the lives lost at the Pentagon and onboard American Airlines Flight 77 at the Pentagon in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at sunrise on the morning of the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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Pentagon
Several D.C.-area leaders marked the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with solemn speeches Saturday.

The appearances come after President Joe Biden and former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton congregated in New York to pay tribute to the fallen.

They each wore blue ribbons and held their hands over their hearts as a procession marched a flag through the memorial, watched by hundreds of Americans gathered for the remembrance, some carrying photos of loved ones lost in the attacks.


More on Sept. 11 at 20


Hogan: ‘We have not’ forgotten

At the Maryland National Guard’s Fallen Warrior Ceremony, Gov. Hogan honored 13 fallen members of the state’s National Guard and the 69 Marylanders who he said were killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Hogan told the story of Dana and Zoe Falkenberg, two kids from University Park who were traveling with their parents to Australia. They were on American Airlines Flight 77, which hijackers crashed into the Pentagon.

He also recognized an insurance executive from Abington who was visiting his company’s headquarters in the World Trade Center at the time of the attack.

Hogan called 9/11 “the darkest of days” and noted those who lived through the attacks “still feel the shock, the grief, and the anger of that day just as acutely.”

“We are here today to honor all of our fallen heroes,” Hogan said. “To express to their families that their sacrifices were not in vein, and to ensure that they are never forgotten. Twenty years ago, a generation ago, we said that we would never forget, and we have not.”

Sen. Ben Cardin, who also attended the ceremony, recalled being told about the plane that flew into the north tower but not realizing the country was under attack until the second plane crashed.

“That beautiful day turned into one of the darkest days in the history of America, seared in our minds where we were, and seared in our minds our anger and our vulnerability,” Cardin said.

While the number of deaths can be daunting, Cardin said, “each one is a story.”

Watch Hogan and Cardin’s complete remarks in the video below.

Bowser: Reflecting on an ‘unfathomable nightmare’

Speaking outside DC Fire and EMS Engine 16, Mayor Muriel Bowser reflected on the 11 Washingtonians who died on Sept. 11, 2001, thanked the city’s first responders and praised the heroism of the passengers aboard United Flight 93, which was bound for D.C.

In a speech before first responders, council members, faith leaders and DC Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee, Bowser remembered three D.C. students, their three teachers and two members of the National Geographic team who were on American Airlines Flight 77 before it was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon.

The group was headed to California for a special educational trip.

“We continue to send our love and prayers to their families, who that day experienced an unfathomable nightmare,” Bowser said.

Bowser, who hours before her remarks proclaimed the day “September 11, 2001 Day of Remembrance,” also praised the “bravery, sacrifice and heroism of the passengers of United Flight 93.”

“We know that Flight 93 was headed to Washington, D.C.,” Bowser said. “We are certain that the passengers and crew members aboard that flight saved our city and our nation from an even darker day in history.”

Bowser said that since 9/11, D.C. has spent more than $1 billion to prepare for situations that require regional coordination.

“Today, we are a city in a region that is more prepared, more resilient and has more resources ready to address foreign and domestic threats,” she said.

Recognizing the city’s responders, DC Fire and EMS Chief John Donnelly said the job has changed since 9/11. Whereas before the job’s risks were obvious, Donnelly said, there are now other factors that have to be considered.

He said new responders learn about building construction, new equipment and how to tend to their mental health.

“If you were to press [first responders] on what they are, they’d tell you they’re just doing their job,” Donnelly said. “They’d tell you that about 9/11, they’d tell you that about Jan. 6. But the reality is, we all know different.”

Council member Charles Allen, who chairs the city’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, said he hopes “we’ll also not forget the possibility that came out of that tragedy.”

“There was a moment, and there still can be, where we’re able to find ways to come together, solve shared problems, not let differences define us,” Allen said.

Watch the full ceremony in the video below.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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