We Haven’t Forgotten: A Guide to Honoring 9/11 after 20 Years

It doesn’t feel like it’s been 20 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That pain, that fear, that utter disbelief still feels fresh. 

I was in seventh grade on September 11, 2001. As I walked to school that day, hopping over the small creek behind my neighborhood, trying to avoid getting any mud on my new Sketchers, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. This began one of the most intense and confusing days my adolescent mind would ever struggle through. My tiny bubble of Niver Creek Middle School was rocked, shoving away naivety and opening its eyes to the destruction and devastation occurring in New York City. 

We all watched the horrific events of that day unfolding, many of us not knowing why or how anyone could do this to our country, and the uncertainty of what it meant was terrifying.

On 9/11, we saw planes become weapons, aimed at architectural mainstays, instantaneously ending so many lives. We watched assumed heroes become unquestionably heroic in the face of danger. We witnessed the human spirit, the American spirit, eager to help, rise up and push forward. 

All the emotions are still very real. It feels like it was just yesterday. 

As we approach the 20th anniversary of that day, many of us are trying to find ways to meaningfully honor the lives lost, remember the sacrifices made and celebrate those who survived. 

  • Choosing to volunteer on 9/11 is a great way to give back to our community, and “Operation Enduring Service: Houston Platoon & Mykawa Farm” supports a Houston cause. The whole family can work with the Houston Platoon of The Mission Continues, an organization that allows veterans to continue to lead with their service-driven hearts, with this amazing service project. 
  • The Lone Star Flight Museum will be honoring the 2,977 people killed on 9/11 with an exhibit that will display the victims names and their locations at the time of the attacks. The museum will also display an 11-foot section of a World Trade Center I-Beam. Share your thoughts and sentiments in the guestbook that will be donated to the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City. 
  •  The 9/11 Heroes Run invites all runners, walkers and ruckers {participants walk or run while carrying heavy rucksacks} of all ages and fitness levels to join in on this 5K event in honor of the heroes of 9/11 and those who have serviced our country since. And this year, the event will will also honor our nation’s frontline healthcare workers who have been the backbone of our country during the pandemic.
  • Virtual volunteerism is also an incredible way to spread some love and kindness in honor September 11th, also know as National Day of Service. Operation Gratitude provides grateful Americans the opportunity to write letters to First Responders & Military men and women. Take the time to express yourself and give some encouragement to our heroes. 
  • Although the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is not yet sponsoring a stair climb in the Houston area for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, you can try to organize and host an event in our area to climb 110 stories to honor the 343 first responders who gave their lives to help others in the World Trade Center towers.  
  • Moments of silence can be such a powerful way to observe the passing two decades since the terrorist attacks. The 9/11 Memorial & Museum will observe six moments of silence, acknowledging when each of the World Trade Center towers was struck and fell and the times corresponding to the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93. You and your family can use these moments to reflect and remember the events of that day. 

Two of our contributors have shared with their 9/11 stories with our community over the past years.

Vicky described what it was like to be a mere 4 blocks from Ground Zero on that tragic day, and her words are powerful. Vicky bravely shared firsthand accounts of the surrealism of that day, being in the city she called home, as it was being attacked. 

Emily’s expressions of panic, fear and eventual gratefulness for her brother who survived the terrorist attacks is such an incredible reminder of how fragile life is. While we mourn those we lost that day, it is incredibly important to cherish the lives that were spared. 

Read their words and, as we approach this meaningful milestone of such a momentous day, reflect on what September 11th means to you. Find a way to be thankful, hug your family, express gratitude, honor the memory those who we’ve lost, and find a way to show a little kindness.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love. 

How do you plan to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11?


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Ashley Black
Ashley KB was born in Long Beach, CA, but spent most of her childhood in Denver, CO. She was very athletic growing up, and she loved running track and playing volleyball. Ashley ventured to Oklahoma where she attended Langston University and transferred to the University of Central Oklahoma. Ashley graduated with an English degree from the UCO in 2011. Ashley was married to A.J. for six years... but it just didn't work out. And that's OK! They have three wild, precious, hilarious sons, Oliver {October 2012}, Maverick {August 2015} and Reeve {August 2017} who make life so incredibly meaningful. She also has a snuggly fur baby, Luna. In her free time, she can be found binge watching The Office {for the millionth time}, listening to inappropriate podcasts, or oversharing on Instagram @theofficialbossmama and her personal blog.


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