Fifteen years ago our lives in this nation were altered forever. That tranquil, sunny Tuesday morning on the eastern seaboard of our country was shattered when American Airlines, Flight 11 was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center complex. That plane, and three others we would soon learn, had been hijacked by nineteen terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda and used against us in the act of terror that would claim the lives of nearly three-thousand innocent civilians.
The Mission of Wreaths Across America is to remember our fallen, honor those who serve, and teach younger generations the value of freedom. Those freedoms were attacked on September 11, 2001, and the images of the destruction in New York City, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania are forever seared into our memories.
As Wreaths Across America Founder Morrill Worcester reminisces about the past twenty-five years of laying wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery, the year they laid wreaths following the September 11 events was one of the most powerful.
"Of course we had heard all about the attacks on the news back in September of that year, and leading right up to our annual visit in fact," Worcester recalls. "We had extra wreaths for the victims and right across from where we placed some of those wreaths you could see the big hole the plane had made on the side of the Pentagon."
For several years as part of the annual escort to Arlington National Cemetery, Wreaths Across America has held a remembrance ceremony at the 9-11 Memorial, located just outside the Pentagon.
Last year, the first person to place a remembrance wreath on the Pentagon fence was a victim of the terror attack. Kathy Dillaber and her sister Patty Mickley had offices on different floors in the Pentagon.
"We had just met in the center court of the building and had chatted briefly about what had happened in New York," recalls Dillaber. "She had gone back to her office, and I went to mine, and that's when I heard a loud sound. I didn't know what it was at the time, but I was knocked to the ground and saw debris flying in the hallways. I remembered trying to get to Patty's office but was turned around as we were forced to evacuate the building."
Dillaber would later discover her sister was one of the one hundred and eighty-four victims killed that day when Flight 77 flew into the Pentagon.
Hundreds of brave young men and women were inspired to serve in the armed forces following the attack of 9-11 volunteering to defend our freedoms. Many have given the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in doing so. They stood to serve, and we stand to support them.