It has been 20 years since the attacks that saw 19 terrorists hijack four fully loaded commercial airplanes and turned them into weapons of mass destruction. Two of those planes hit the World Trade Center twin towers in New York City. Another one hit the Pentagon in Washington, DC, while the other crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
2,983 lives were lost on 9/11, the worst terror assault in the history of America.
Two decades have passed but the annual memorial and reading of names of all the victims and heroes of 9/11 is still emotional. A number of those names were Filipinos. One of them is Maria Theresa Santillan. For her brother Raymond, the pain of losing a loved one never goes away. "Maybe it was emotional as it's the 20th year. What made it more emotional is [the fact that] both my parents passed away of Covid in December so it's tough," Ramond shared.
Meanwhile, Sheila Tamayo-Punzalan comes to the 9/11 memorial every year to remember her brother Hector Rogan Tamayo, a civil engineer who was working at World Trade Center 2 when it collapsed.
"It's like opening the wounds again 20 years later. Although it's every year, it's always [a] tragic emotion and feeling," Sheila said. "But you move on and then you keep on praying."
Like Sheila, Hector's cousin Bernadette Rogan-Rynne also visits the 9/11 memorial often. She describes Hector as " really well loved. He loved to sing every time we had a family get-together. He was the guitarist and the singer. He [was] such a thoughtful person."
Bernadette has this message for those who lost a loved one on 9/11: "My deepest sympathy to everybody and I wish that you know you can move on. We will remember; We will never forget them so I feel your pain and I wish you all the best as the years go on."
30 memorial events happened in New York City to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11.