Tuesday was the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, N.Y., the Pentagon in Arlington County, Va., and the crash of Flight 93 into a field in Shanksville, Somerset County.
On July 25, the remains of a 26-year-old man who worked at the World Trade Center were identified as a result of advanced DNA testing.
The remains of Scott Michael Johnson, which were recovered after the attack, were identified by the forensic biology division of the New York City medical examiner’s office.
Johnson worked as a security analyst for Keefe, Bruyette and Woods on the 89th floor of the south tower.
“In 2001, we made a commitment to the families of victims that we would do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to identify their loved ones,” Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson said in a news release. “This identification is the result of the tireless dedication of our staff to this ongoing mission.”
Johnson was the 1,642nd victim identified of the 2,753 reported deaths from the 9/11 attack in New York City.
Three days after the identification was announced, by mere coincidence, I was on a bus heading to New York for a tour of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, and One World Trade Center, known as the Freedom Tower.
To say the site is hallowed ground is a downplay of the significance of the tragedy that occurred there.
As I walked through the museum, only reverent whispers could be heard — whispers from fathers to sons, mothers to daughters in a variety of languages, few of which I could identify.
Two rooms were dedicated to photos of the victims of the attack. One room was for those who died in the south tower. The other was for those who lost their lives in the north tower.
Artifacts from the attacks — a destroyed firetruck and a portion of the communication tower that was atop the north tower — were on display.
Viewing the portion of the communication tower brought back long-cherished memories.
My family and I traveled by bus to the World Trade Center in July 2001, just two months before 9/11.
We took two elevators to reach the Top of the World Observatory on the 110th floor of tower two, where the extensive view was awe-inspiring.
This past Sunday, the new memorial at Shanksville, honoring the 40 heroes who prevented Flight 93 from crashing into what is thought may have been the White House or the U.S. Capitol, was dedicated.
The 93-foot-tall Tower of Voices will feature a unique wind chime for each of those who died on that doomed flight.
Whether it be the 9/11 Memorial and Museum or the Tower of Voices, every American, every citizen of this world needs to make a pilgrimage to one or both of the sites at least once in his or her lifetime ... lest any of us should forget.