top of page

What is a hero?

Good morning my friends,

Today we remember.

It has been 22 years since the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. It has been 22 years since the day that, I believe, most Americans would tell you changed their lives.

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 United Airlines Flight 175 and American Airlines Flight 11 departed from Boston on their way to California. They never made it. Hijackers crashed the planes into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon, while passengers attempted to overtake United Airlines Flight 93 from hijackers before it crash-landed in Pennsylvania.

While people fled from the towers, many rushed towards the danger to help, regardless of their own safety. That day brave firefighters and police officers saved thousands of lives.

The 9/11 attacks left 2,977 dead across New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. 2,753 died after the planes struck the Twin Towers. 184 people were killed at the Pentagon and 40 people died when Flight 93 crash-landed in Pennsylvania. 441 first responders lost their lives.

The city I now call home is thrumming with remembrance, and I am grateful for that. I believe with every fiber of my being that we should take time to pause, to question and to remember-today especially.

There are many things that could be written by far more eloquent authors than myself today, but if you will indulge me…I would like to take a moment this morning and pause together. Rather than attempting to address the threat of global terror or discussing the impact of that day on the United States and our regional and global allies…I want to remember the heroes of that day.

In a class last semester here at Georgetown, a professor whom I greatly admire, dedicated an entire class to the events leading up to, and surrounding 9/11. Everyone shared with classmates where they were, what they were doing and the impact of that day. A few classmates hadn’t even been born or were not old enough to remember–which was an odd feeling given that it marked a turning point for so many of us “older” folks in the room. My professor, someone of great strength of character and determination–dedicated their life in service of our country following the attacks. Recognizing their ability to serve in unique ways, they are one among many who watched in horror and reacted by devoting their life to a cause greater than themselves.

This morning, I took some time to read through the names of the people who died, read stories of everyday heroes who acted with love for their fellow man and read the transcripts of phone calls to loved ones. Today, I reflect on my own memories of 9/11, and frankly, still feel confusion, fear and great sadness for numerous reasons.

I don’t have the answers. I just have the ability to take today to remember, and I hope you will join me.

On 9/11, over 1,000 phone calls were made within ten minutes of the first plane hitting the building. There were thousands more made throughout the day, messages sent and voicemails left.

“Jules, this is Brian. Listen, I’m on an airplane that’s been hijacked. If things don’t go well, and it’s not looking good, I just want you to know that I absolutely love you. I want you to do good, go have good times - same to my parents and everybody. I just totally love you… and I’ll see you when you get there.

Bye babe. I hope I call you.”

-Brian David Sweeney

“Honey, wanted to tell you how much I love you. I was a little worried. I don't want to lose you now that I got you back. You mean everything to me. You have my whole heart and life. I love you so much.”


“Hi baby. I’m, baby, you have to listen to me carefully. I’m on a plane that’s been hijacked. I’m on the plane, I’m calling from the plane. I want to tell you that I love you. Please tell my children that I love them very much. And I’m so sorry baby.

I don’t know what to say. There’s three guys, they’ve hijacked the plane… we’re turned around and I heard that there’s planes that have been flown into the World Trade Center. I hope to see your face again, baby. I love you.


-CeeCee Lyles

“MD: It’s very hot, I see...I don't see, I don't see any air anymore.

911: Okay...

MD: All I see is smoke.

911: Okay dear, I'm so sorry, hold on for a sec, stay calm with me, stay calm, listen, listen, the call is in, I'm documenting, hold on one second please...

MD: I’m going to die, aren't I?

911: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, say your, ma'am, say your prayers.

MD: I’m going to die.

911: You gotta think positive, because you gotta help each other get off the floor.

MD: I’m going to die.

911: Now look, stay calm, stay calm, stay calm, stay calm.

MD: Please God...

-Melissa C. Doi

“I just wanted to let you know I love you and I’m stuck in this building in New York. There’s lots of smoke and I just wanted you to know that I love you always."

-Melissa Harrington Hughes

I believe it is appropriate to feel somber on this day.

I hope you take a moment to reflect and share your memories from that day.

I love you all. I am glad you are here to remember.

Never forget.



92 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page