NEW YORK – Thousands gathered at the National September 11 Memorial Plaza here to remember victims of the 9/11 terror attacks 18 years ago.
Twenty Filipinos were among the nearly 3,000 people who perished in the coordinated terror attacks by the Al Qaeda group, then led by Osama din Laden.
The bell rung to mark the exact times of when the planes hit the World Trade Center and when the twin towers fell.
The planes hit the North Tower at 8:46 a.m. and the South Tower at 9:03 a.m. The South Tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m. -- 56 minutes after impact-- while the North Tower collapsed at 10:28 a.m. --- an hour and 42 minutes after impact.
As in years past, the names of all the victims were called, among them Filipino cousins Maria Theresa Santillan and Judy Hazel Santillan Fernandez. Both died at 27 years old.
"Parang kahapon lang nangyari, itong 18 years masyadong mabilis, it hurts," said Judy’s father Expedito Santillan.
(It seems like only yesterday, 18 years went by so fast. It hurts.)
Maria Theresa was working in human resources at the Cantor Fitzgerald on Tower 1 when the attack happened. Her cousin and co-worker Judy was not even supposed to be there at that time.
"I think she’s off but it just so happen she went to the building and then it happened," said Maria Theresa’s mother Ester Concepcion Santillan.
To keep the memories alive for the thousands of lives lost and the countless heroes of the 9/11 terror attacks, New York has started a new tradition: the September 11th Remembrance Day.
The city’s new law requires all public schools to observe a moment of silence every September 11 to remind the younger generation that in America’s darkest day, people showed courage, sacrifice, support and love.
"I’m very appreciative. We should never forget, these are 3,000 innocent people that lost their lives that day and then and to have New York recognize that is very important to my family – If they could establish this in other states that would be great," said Judy’s brother, Richard Fernandez.
Over 6,000 others were injured and at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property were damaged. In the attacks. Many more died of 911 related cancer and respiratory diseases in the aftermath of the attacks.
On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist hijacked four passenger airlines --- two of which crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center --- which led to the towers’ collapse.
The third plane hit the Pentagon in Virginia and the fourth crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Before heading to the Pentagon for a ceremony, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump commemorated the 9/11 terror attacks with a moment of silence at the White House South Lawn.
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