A crowd full of people filled downtown Detroit on a sunny, mildly warm Tuesday afternoon. The National Anthem kicked off the event. Some people in the crowd sang along, others stared up at the American flag waving side to side in the wind.
Sounds like the start of a great day at Comerica Park to watch the Detroit Tigers, right? Wrong. Campus Martius was the venue for this particular event. A baseball game was the last thing on everybody’s mind. So what was the gathering all about? Today, 09/11/2012, marks the 11 year anniversary of the 09/11/2001 terrorist attacks that changed the world forever.
Eleven years ago today, I had just turned 14 years old. It seems like so long ago, yet I remember details of the day like it was yesterday. I was sitting in English class, rushing to finish a homework assignment that was due in my next class. Moments later, word started to spread about the hijacked plane that had just crashed into the World Trade Center. Teachers, other school officials and students witnessed first-hand the second hijacked plane head straight into the other tower.
It was a time of mass confusion for me. I was very unsure of the magnification of such an event. As students talked about the events walking in the halls, I got the sense that everyone was as confused as me. It’s something I’ll never forget.
Obviously I’m not alone. Memorials and community service events took place throughout the country in remembrance of the horrific events that took place 11 years ago. For the 10th consecutive year, the city of Detroit held its annual 9/11 Memorial Service to recognize those who gave the ultimate sacrifice that fateful day. Other nearby cities that held similar services include Farmington, Grosse Pointe, Auburn Hills and Westland.
The event in Campus Martius was filled with a variety of people. Members of the Detroit Police and Fire Departments, including Chief of Police Ralph Godbee, Jr. and Executive Fire Commissioner Donald Austin were on hand, along with Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge John Shoup of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Each individual presented a special message to the crowd. One in particular stood out to me. R. Daryl Lundy, City of Detroit Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director, talked about the timeline from 09/11/01 to the present day. He reminded the crowd about all that’s happened in the last 11 years. Many of the spectators in attendance, myself included, were young teenagers at the time. Over the years, many of the young people who watched the events unfold while at school grew up and took jobs in the military. That aspect really hit home with me, as I have many friends who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq over the years.
Overall, the event was a sobering reminder of what happened 11 years ago. One of the guest speakers talked about the weeks after the tragedy. To summarize what was said, in the aftermath, there weren’t black Americans, white Americans, Muslim Americans, Asian Americans, etc. People came together and put aside their differences and were just flat out Americans. Despite being fairly young at the time, I remember attending a Tigers game where everyone in my section held hands during the National Anthem. Like the speaker said, it was a moment where everyone seemingly became one.
In addition to the Star Spangled Banner, spectators and onlookers joined in the reading of The Pledge of Allegiance. My experience of the 9/11 Memorial Service at Campus Martius made me think about a lot of things. Mainly, how would life be different if the terrorist attacks never took place? One thing’s for certain. I’d have a lot of friends whose lives would be a lot different. With that, I’d like to thank everyone who helps protect us on a daily basis, and remember those who were lost 11 years ago today.
Did you do anything to commemorate the 11 year anniversary of 09/11/01? Let us know in the comments section below!