In the United States, Patriot Day occurs on September 11th of each year, designated in memory of the 2,977 killed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Initially, the day was called the Prayer and Remembrance for the Victims of the Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001.
U.S. House of Representatives Joint Resolution 71 was approved by a vote of 407–0 on October 25, 2001. It requested that the President designate September 11th of each year as “Patriot Day”. President George W. Bush signed the resolution into law on December 18, 2001 (as Public Law 107-89). It is a discretionary day of remembrance. On September 4th, 2002, President Bush used his authority created by the resolution and proclaimed September 11, 2002 as Patriot Day.
On this day, the President requests that the American flag be flown at half-staff at individual American homes, at the White House, and on all U.S. government buildings and establishments, home and abroad. The President also asks Americans to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 A.M. (Eastern Daylight Time), the time the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
The National Memorial
In 2003, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation launched an international competition to design a memorial at the World Trade Center site to commemorate the lives lost in the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Individuals and teams from around the world contributed design proposals.
On November 19, 2003, the thirteen-member jury – which included Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and deputy mayor Patricia Harris – selected eight finalists. “Reflecting Absence” was chosen as the winning design on January 6, 2004. On January 14, 2004, the final design for the World Trade Center site memorial was revealed in a press conference at Federal Hall in New York.
In January 2004, the design, Reflecting Absence, by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker was selected as the winner of the LMDC’s design competition that had 5,201 entrants from 63 nations.
Two pools with the largest manmade waterfalls in the United States cascading down their sides are located within the footprints of the Twin Towers. Each pool is 1-acre (4,000 m2), and together they are intended to symbolize the loss of life and the physical void left by the terrorist attacks. The sound of the water falling is supposed to drown out the sounds of the city, making the site a contemplative sanctuary. Almost 400 sweet gum and swamp white oak trees fill the remaining 6 acres (24,000 m2) of the Memorial Plaza, furthering the reflective nature of the site.
In addition, cutting-edge pedestrian simulations were conducted to test the design of the memorial site. The pedestrian modeling software Legion was used to simulate how visitors would utilize the space, and the design was subsequently tweaked to prevent potential bottlenecks.
Arrangement of the Victims’ Names
The names of 2,983 victims are inscribed on 76 bronze plates attached to the parapet walls which form the edges of the Memorial pools. This includes the names of 2,977 victims who were killed in the September 11 attacks in New York City, Arlington, VA, and Pennsylvania, as well as the names of six victims who were killed in the February 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The names are arranged according to a process and algorithm which was used to create “meaningful adjacencies,” based on “relationship” details which include proximity at the time of the attacks, company or organization affiliations for those who worked at the World Trade Center or Pentagon, and approximately 1,200 requests from family members. Software developed by Local Projects was used to implement this arrangement.
As a result of this process, the names of the victims who were in the North Tower (WTC 1); passengers or crew of American Airlines Flight 11 (which hit the North Tower) and victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing are located around the perimeter of the North Pool. The names of the victims who were in the South Tower (WTC 2); passengers or crew of United Airlines Flight 175 (which hit the South Tower); victims who were in the immediate vicinity of the Twin Towers; first responders who died during rescue operations; passengers or crew of United Airlines Flight 93 (which crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania) and American Airlines Flight 77 (which hit the Pentagon); and the victims who were at the Pentagon are located around the perimeter of the South Pool. It was decided that the names of companies would not be included. However, company employees and their visitors are listed together. Passengers of the four flights are listed together under their flight numbers, and first responders are listed together with their units.
The process for arranging names was finalized in an agreement reached in 2006, and replaced an earlier plan to arrange the names randomly. According to Edith Lutnick (Executive Director of the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund), “your loved ones’ names are surrounded by the names of those they sat with, those they worked with, those they lived with and, very possibly, those they died with.”
Honoring the Victims: Moments of Silence
8:46am ET – Honoring those who lost their lives when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower.
9:03am ET – Honoring those who lost their lives when United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the World Trade Center’s South Tower.
9:37am ET – Honoring those who lost their lives when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.
9:59am ET – Honoring those who lost their lives when the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.
10:03am ET – Honoring those who lost their lives when United Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
10:28am ET – Honoring those who lost their lives when the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.