NEW YORK — 18 years ago, nearly 3,000 people were killed in the September 11 coordinated terror attacks by the Islamic terrorist group Al Qaeda against the United States.
Among the casualties in the worst attack on U.S. soil were 20 Filipinos.
Over 6,000 others were injured and at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property were damaged. Many more died of 9-11 related cancer and respiratory diseases in the aftermath of the four attacks.
On September 11, 2001, terrorist hijacked four passenger airlines — two of which crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center, which led to the towers’ collapse.
The third plane hit the Pentagon in Virginia, and the fourth crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
On the same day 18 years later, thousands of family, friends and loved ones of 9-11 victims gathered at the national September 11 Memorial Plaza.
They observed moments of silence. The bell was also rung to mark the exact times of when the planes hit the World Trade Center and when the twin towers fell.
The planes hit the North Tower at 8:46 AM and the South Tower at 9:03 am.
The South Tower collapsed at 9:59 am — 56 minutes after impact, while the North Tower collapsed at 10:28 am — an hour and 42 minutes after impact.
And as in years past, the names of all the victims were called.
Among them Filipino cousins, Maria Theresa Antillan and Judy Hazel Santillan Fernandez. Both died at 27 years old.
“And my aunt, Maria Teresa Concepcion Santillan, I never met you, but I have heard great stories about you, I know you’re looking down on us as our guardian angel, Lolo, Lola, Tito Ray, and Dad miss, we love you God Bless America.”
For the past 18 years, the Santillan family have come to this ceremony to remember the two young Pinays.
“Maria Theresa was working in human resources at the Cantor Fitzgerald on tower 1 when the attack happened… her cousin and co-worker Judy Santillan was not even supposed to be around.”
“I think she’s off but it just so happen she went to the building and the it happened,” said Ester, her mother.
To keep the memories alive for the thousands of lives lost and the countless heroes of the 9/11 terror attacks, New York has a started new tradition.
The September 11th Remembrance Day — the city’s new law requires all public schools to take a moment of silence every September 11 to remind the younger generation that amidst America’s darkest day, people showed courage, sacrifice, support and love.
“I’m very appreciative, we should never forget, these are 3 thousand innocent people that lost their lives that day and then and to have New York recognize that, is very important to my family – if they could establish this in other states that would be great,” said Richard Fernandez.
Before heading to the Pentagon for a ceremony, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump commemorated the 9/11 terror attacks with a moment of silence on the White House South Lawn.
Trump vowed to fight back with the power the U.S. has never used before if the country is attacked again.