Mounted on a wall just outside of the Capitol Rotunda is a massive bronze plaque, regularly drawing the attention of Capitol Hill interns and perceptive visitors alike. For those who take the time to read its inscription, the Flight 93 Memorial Plaque serves as a poignant reminder of just how directly the Washington, D.C. area was impacted on September 11th, 2001.
United Airlines Flight 93, for those who are unaware, is one of the planes which was hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists on that fateful day 17 years ago, and was eventually crashed in a rural field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It is widely believed that the hijackers of Flight 93 intended to attack a major Washington landmark, potentially either the Capitol Building or the White House. Thankfully, several heroic passengers fought to take back the cockpit from the hijackers, diverting the terrorists from their course and, tragically, leading to the plane’s fatal crash. The Flight 93 Memorial Plaque was dedicated so that the names of these brave Americans would forever be memorialized in the Capitol.
At a time now where many GW undergraduates, including myself, were too young at the time of 9/11 to have any remaining personal recollection of that horrific day, it should not be lost on any of us how closely these attacks impacted our University and the D.C. metropolitan area. Nor should we fail to realize how much more incredibly devastating the day could have been were it not for the courageous passengers on UA Flight 93.
The attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Flight 93 claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans, a numerical figure which can’t come close to describing the incredible pain and suffering encountered by our nation in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Given that in just a few short years, nearly every undergraduate student at GW will have been born after September 11th, 2001, it is imperative that we continue to memorialize the fallen and educate young Americans about what took place on that earth-shaking day.
For fellow GW students looking for ways to solemnly commemorate 9/11 today, I would make a few recommendations. At 6 pm tonight, join the GW College Republicans as we visit the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon to pay our respects and lay flowers at the memorial. In 2017, the trip to the Pentagon was done in conjunction with the GW College Democrats, and it is my sincere hope that this bipartisan outing will be replicated in future years, to affirm that we as Americans will never let politics divide us when our country comes under attack.
Additionally, in the morning, GW YAF will be planting one flag in Kogan Plaza for each life lost on September 11th, 2001. I would encourage all of my peers to either help with the set-up for this event from 7 to 9 am, or make an effort to go pay your respects in Kogan at some point during the day. Be sure to also encourage your professors and fellow classmates to observe the campus-wide moment of silence at 8:46 am, the exact time when the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Lastly, on this somber day of remembrance, consider asking an adult where they were on September 11th, 2001, and how their life was changed forever that day. By learning these personal stories, we can get a greater understanding of the magnitude of the 9/11 attacks, and how every single person in our country was affected in some way. Passing on these memories to young Americans is our moral obligation. We must ensure that the memories of our nearly 3,000 fallen citizens live on in the hearts and minds of all Americans for eternity. The Flight 93 Memorial Plaque in the Capitol is a touching tribute which can evoke stirring reflection – but only so long as we continue to read it.
Josh Kutner is the Assistant Director of Editorial Services for the GW College Republicans Committee on Publications.
The opinions expressed on this blog are their own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official views of the GW College Republicans.