Never Forget: A 9/11 Remembrance

Posted on Sep 10, 2021 in Information and News Releases, Main, News Stories



Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency







Never Forget: A 9/11 Remembrance

Honolulu – Where were you when the world stopped turning? It is a question often asked when the nation pauses each year to reflect on Sept. 11, 2001.

The epicenter of the tragedy was in New York City where two commercial airplanes – part of a coordinated terrorist attack carried out by al-Qaeda – were hijacked and deliberately crashed into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center complex. The two towers, known as the Twin Towers, ultimately collapsed from damage sustained on impact and resulting fires.

A third hijacked plane was crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Passengers on a fourth plane, Flight 93, fought back and the plane was crashed into an empty field in Pennsylvania, just 20 minutes by air from Washington D.C.

The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people.

For most people, the answer to where they were was glued to their television, watching the events unfold on air. For some, it was sitting in an airport or maybe even on the tarmac, the reason for their grounded flights just dawning into recognition.

For a select few, the answer to the question was also an answer to a call that was bigger than them. The answer was running into chaos and into burning buildings, it was running toward the danger, and to the lives that needed them, their courage, and their selflessness.

Today, twenty years later, we remember and honor the men and women whose lives were lost and those whose courage was tested but did not falter when the world indeed stopped turning.

“I was a news photojournalist based in New York at that time, and those horrible events are forever seared into my memory.”, said Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) Public Information Officer Doug Carroll. “I force myself each year to look back and remember, especially upon those NYFD and NYPD heroes who gave all to save who they could. I have never been prouder to be a New Yorker than I was on that day and during the dark months that followed. It brought us all together in mutual support unlike anything I had ever experienced before or since.”

It Changed Everything

We also pause to look back on a world and a people that was and were dramatically changed by the events of 9/11 and the days and years that followed.

After a team of 19 hijackers were able to board four commercial flights in the United States, travel by air quickly saw tightened security and the way millions of Americans passed through airports was never the same again.

For the military, objectives abruptly shifted. Then President George W. Bush said that “any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime,” and less than a month after 9/11, “Operation Enduring Freedom” launched the United States into what is now known as the “nation’s longest war.”

Sept. 11, 2001 changed the missions of emergency management as well, as emergency managers from local, county, state, and federal levels pivoted focus from natural hazards to human-caused emergencies and acts of terrorism. Out of the tragedy, the Department of Homeland Security was formed and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was folded under the newly created department with a task to create an all-hazards approach to the types of threats the United States should seek to minimize and prepare for.

HI-EMA Administrator Luke Meyers reflected on the events of that day:

With some of my family in New York City, the day of the attacks on 9/11 brought waves of fear, anxiety, and the unknown. Fortunately, my family survived. Looking back at this incident, I had just started in the field of emergency management and 9/11 expanded the types of the hazards that we face as a community and how we prepare and try to prevent or mitigate them. The lasting impacts of this incident are a constant reminder of those we lost and those whose lives were altered. Take time this weekend to reflect and build on your own personal preparedness.

Today, we at the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency continue our mission of “helping the Hawaiʻi ʻohana prepare for, mitigate against, respond to, and recover from disaster and emergencies” with an all-hazards approach and with care (mālama), courage (wiwoʻole) and a drive for excellence (poʻokela) so that we can be prepared for whatever may impact the way we live, work, and play in our beautiful state and nation.



Douglas Carroll

Public Information Officer

[email protected]



Hollie Stark

Information Specialist

[email protected]



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