Saturday marked 20 years since the world watched transfixed as planes hijacked by terrorists collided with the twin towers of the World Trade Centre and changed the world as we now know it.
A couple hundred Calgarians gathered to commemorate that fateful day in a special ceremony at The Military Museums, which honoured the 2,977 people who lost their lives in the attacks, including 24 Canadians.
David Peabody, who served an operational tour with the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan and works as the museum’s director says it is his honour to never lose sight of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“It’s important for people to really keep touch with the human consequence and the tragedy,” he said.
“We will never forget. People have connections to individuals, everybody’s got a story that remembers that day, but it’s those who are directly affected by the event that we have to remember, he said.
Calgary Fire Chief Steve Dongworth also presented an emotional speech, noting that this is a day to remember the 343 firefighters who sacrificed their lives in the tragedy.
“This kind of impact just stays with you forever,” Dongworth said.
“With it being 20 years ago, we have firefighters now who we’re young folks at the time who perhaps don’t even have a perspective of 9/11, so I think it’s important to sustain that memory. It becomes so much more meaningful when you read out the actual names of people who gave their life, their ranks, the trucks they rode on to that call, and their ages.”
Dongworth says all fire stations in Calgary took time in their day to hold special parades and read out the names of all fallen first responders.
Premier Jason Kenney and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi also made remarks at the ceremony.
U.S. CONSUL GENERAL REFLECTS ON PENTAGON ATTACK
Several foreign dignitaries attended the ceremony to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, including Holly Waeger Monster, who recently took over as U.S. Consul General of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Northwest Territories.
Monster was working with the U.S. State Department in Arlington, Virginia on Sept. 11, 2001, where she was completing an orientation class for new hires.
Suddenly, she heard a loud explosion. It was the sound of a plane colliding with the Pentagon building nearby.
“I could smell and see the smoke from the Pentagon. The louder sounds we heard were actually from when the wall of the Pentagon collapsed,” she said.
Monster adds that the heroic acts of the first responders that day were what stuck with her most. She particularly now values how the attacks have further united both Canadians and Americans.
“The Canadians really just opened up their hearts and their arms to the world that day. Over 200 airplanes that were in the air landed in Canada because they couldn’t enter the United States, people in Canada opened up their homes to welcome those passengers when there wasn’t anywhere else to go.”
AFGHAN NATIONAL REMEMBERS 9/11 ATTACKS
Kawa Aahangar lived and worked in Afghanistan during the turbulent years of the War on Terror as a political scientist, writing about elections and involving himself in media broadcasts.
He moved to Calgary three years ago and now provides his personal perspective on the commitment and sacrifices made by Canadians that have had a positive impact on his family.
Unfortunately, Aahangar says the situation in Afghanistan is now much worse than it was in 2001, noting that the Taliban are getting smarter, becoming more violent and using social media and technology to control the people.
“The reason I’m here today is because we are still suffering in Afghanistan from the people who caused 9/11,” he said.
“So please support the resistance of the people of Afghanistan against the Taliban. Support those brave women who stood against the Taliban and are going through the streets of Kabul and Iraq with all those brave young people.”
Aahangar spoke to Calgarians at The Military Museums Saturday to share his insights of Canadian Forces, while also highlighting the new Mission: Afghanistan exhibit.
The exhibit opens with footage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and the covers Canada’s mission including Kandahar, deployment logistics and the consequences of friendly fire.