Remembering them all, 15 years later
It’s not hyperbole to suggest that the history of American security can be divided into two periods: before 9/11 and after 9/11.
On Sunday, Southern Marylanders will join the nation as we remember the 2,996 lives lost in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, including 343 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers. More than 6,000 others were injured. It was the deadliest day in U.S. history for first responders. And in many ways, it changed us all forever.
Many of us who are adults can recall exactly where we were 15 years ago, that temperate Tuesday morning under a cloudless, cerulean-blue sky. A beautiful morning that turned horrific before Charles County had its second cup of coffee.
That awful day, terrorist hijackers deliberately crashed two commercial jets into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, and another into the Pentagon. A handful of brave passengers stormed the cockpit of a fourth airliner and fought the terrorists, ultimately crashing the jet into a field in western Pennsylvania before it could turn into another guided missile. The first crash into the north tower, when the news broke, seemed like a bizarre, freak accident. How could air traffic control go so wrong? Was the pilot ill? What could have happened? When the second airliner slammed the south tower, sadly, sickly, we knew it was something else.
For those not already tuned in and unable to look away from the television, there were phone calls telling us to turn on the news, the shock and horror of the video and photos of the attack and the collapse of the Twin Towers, efforts to reach friends and loved ones feared to be in harm’s way, and trying to make sense of what had happened.
Then came the news that hit Southern Maryland most directly. Another jetliner — American Airlines Flight 77 — had crashed into the Pentagon, killing nine people from this area among the 125 who perished.
Kris Romeo Bishundat, 23, of Waldorf, was a Navy petty officer assigned to the Pentagon just three months before the attack.
Donna Marie Bowen, 42, of Waldorf, was a wife and mother of three and a Verizon telephone worker assigned to an Army budgeting office.
Sharon S. Carver, 38, of Waldorf, was a civilian accountant for the Army.
Angela M. Houtz, 27, of La Plata, was a civilian analyst with the Office of Naval Intelligence.
Shelley A. Marshall, 37, of Marbury, was a budget analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Gerard P. “Jerry” Moran Jr., 39, of Upper Marlboro, was an engineering contractor with the Navy and softball and powerlifting coach at St. Mary’s Ryken High School.
Marvin Roger Woods, 57, of Great Mills, was a retired Navy communications chief who worked as a civilian communications specialist at the Pentagon.
John D. Yamnicky Sr., 71, of Waldorf, was a retired Navy test pilot who was a passenger aboard the airliner.
Edmond Young Jr., 22, of Owings, was a civilian technician who was assisting a general with a computer problem when the airliner struck the building.
We remember them, and we honor them.
Articles in today’s paper feature reflections by locals on their experiences that day 15 years ago, and on what changed in the aftermath, as well as a local family aiming to keep the memory of one of our local 9/11 victims going strong.
Please take a moment Sunday to honor the five men and four women from Southern Maryland who lost their lives that day, among so many others, as well as the sacrifice and bravery of firefighters and law enforcement officers, and regular civilians. Also, take a moment to reflect on the national unity and resolve that developed in the wake of the worst terror attack on American soil. Remember in these times of strife and unrest, that we are, and always have been, more alike than we are different. Let that help us continue to heal.
And let us never forget.