GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
It was a day much like any other. New Yorkers were going about a typical Tuesday morning, then at 8:46 a.m. Sept. 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower filling the city skyline with smoke.
At 9:03 a.m., the city was stunned again when United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower. The Pentagon would be hit a mere 34 minutes later with AA Flight 77. The final plane UA Flight 93 would crash in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after the passengers thwarted the terrorists onboard.
The attack claimed the lives of 2,977 victims and injured more than 6,000 others in an event that shook the nation.
Now 17 years later, the day has become a way for communities to bind together and honor the memory of the individuals lost that day.
Col. Ricky Mills, 17th Training Wing commander, spoke at San Angelo’s Sept. 11 remembrance event at the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts.
“There are some moments in our lives when we experience events that are permanently etched into memories,” said Mills. “No matter how much time has passed, we will remember the minute details surrounding those moments in history. The magnitude of those events provides an immediate and undeniable understanding that we are now in a much different world.”
During his speech, Mills shared about some of service members whose lives have been affect by the events on Sept. 11.
“Tech. Sgt. Jason Archer was an Air Force recruiter living in Florida,” he said. “Living near Orlando International Airport he was accustomed to the constant sound of aircraft overhead, but on that day the sky was eerily silent.
"The phones rang constantly as calls from potential recruits jumped three fold overnight. Tragedy struck our nation and the citizens of our nation responded not with fear but with firm resolve and a readiness to serve.”
Contributing to the bonds within the community, the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy also hosted a 9/11 memorial ceremony so they could honor the first responders that fell that day.
“Today we take the time to honor the nearly 3,000 individuals who lost their lives on the 11th of September, 2001,” said U.S. Army Col. Kip Korth, 1st Engineer Brigade commander. “We also remember the heroes of that day to include the first responders. They ran toward danger, not away from it. Their courageous actions saved lives and brought hope in a time of despair.”
During the fire academy event, the 312th Training Squadron, whose primary mission is to train firefighters for the DoD, had students stand by in formation.
“The combination of the speaker’s words of the significance of what the responders did on 9/11, and just knowing that the men and women that were formed up behind us were volunteering to go into that precise thing, it was inspiring,” said Col. Thomas Coakley, 17th Training Group commander.