Twenty years have passed since Sept. 11, 2001, but it’s still fresh in the memory of many. Nearly 3,000 lives were lost that day when terrorists crashed four commercial planes into the twin towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a rural Pennsylvania field.
Memorials at these sites provide a poignant, spine-tingling moment of reflection and solace, and nearly 200 others coast-to-coast allow visitors to learn and pay tribute. Their exhibits highlight details from that fateful day, the names of the victims, and may include plane wreckage or steel from the buildings. All of them honor the events and people of 9/11.
Note: COVID-19 restrictions are in place for some memorials. Exhibitions may be closed, and masks may be required. Please check official websites for updates before your visit.
9/11 Memorial & Museum
New York, N.Y.
The 9/11 Memorial & Museum’s message of healing, unity and renewal is evident the moment you approach the building’s massive glass facade. Just inside, two steel girders, representing the ill-fated north and south towers of the World Trade Center, stretch to the ceiling of the country’s primary institution for examining the events, aftermath and people of Sept. 11. It also pays homage to those killed in the February 1993 attack.
Descending underground, a ramp evokes the history of construction ramps at the site: one that built the original complex in the 1960s, and another installed during the post-9/11 recovery period to remove wreckage and allow victims’ families access to ground zero. Follow the Survivors’ Stairs, which led hundreds of fleeing survivors out of the buildings to safety.
Keep going, and you’ll experience two significant spaces. Memorial Hall, sited between the footprints of the original twin towers, features site-specific artwork. Foundation Hall contains the slurry wall, a concrete retaining wall that obstructed the Hudson River during 1960s construction, and remained intact during the destruction that occurred on 9/11. You can’t miss The Last Column: the last piece of steel removed from ground zero covered in inscriptions and mementoes from rescue and recovery workers.
A 20th anniversary commemoration ceremony for family members will be held beginning at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 11, where family members will read the names of those who lost their lives that day. At sundown, twin beams in the shape of the twin towers will illuminate the nighttime sky during the annual Tribute in Light. Cultural institutes throughout the city are also planning events that day to mark the anniversary.
The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial
The memorial is currently closed to visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but its website features an audio tour, interactive map and biographies of the victims.
Flight 93 National Memorial
This expansive site offers a visitor center, Tower of Voices and memorial plaza to explore. Begin at the visitor center to learn about the events of 9/11 here and their context within the larger terrorist attack. A permanent interactive exhibit with maps and timelines recounts the story of the passengers and flight crew of United Airlines Flight 93, and the investigation after the crash.
The Tower of Voices is a 93-foot-tall instrument set among a field of wildflowers. Its 40 wind chimes represent the 40 lives lost at the site that day. Installed and dedicated in September 2020, there are no other chime structures like it in the world.
A memorial plaza holds the quarter-mile boundary of the crash site, featuring the Wall of Names, where 40 white polished stones are inscribed with the names of the passengers and crew.
Empty Sky Memorial
Jersey City, N.J.
There are more than 150 memorials across the Garden State, but the official memorial to the 749 state residents that lost their lives is erected at Liberty State Park. Flanking the Hudson River across from New York City, the Empty Sky Memorial features twin stainless steel walls crossing a gently sloped mound anchored by a granite path directed toward ground zero. The victims’ names names are inscribed upon the walls.
Other Sept. 11 Memorials
There are several other Sept. 11 memorial sites in the Northeast where people can pay their respects and share memories of that fateful day.
The 9/11 Memorial in Sherwood Island State Park in Westport features the names of 161 people who died that day, who either lived in Connecticut or had close family in the state. On a clear day, you can see the lower New York skyline from the park, which is on the shore of the Long Island Sound.
A 9/11 Memorial in Hudson’s Benson Park is crafted from steel from the twin towers. It memorializes resident David Kovalcin, who was a passenger on Flight 11, as well as all those who lost their lives that day and U.S. military members serving their country.
In Portland, the 9/11 Memorial of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office features steel salvaged from the World Trade Center site. It honors all those lost on that day.
The Logan Airport 9/11 Memorial features a glass cube, The Place of Remembrance, that honors the crew and passengers of American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 17. The flights left Boston for Los Angeles on Sept. 11, 2001, but were hijacked by terrorists and flown into the twin towers.
Click here for a list of other Bay State memorials.
A memorial and plaque at the State House holds the names of nine Rhode Islanders who died in the attacks.
How do you honor the victims and heroes of Sept. 11? Let us know in the comments.