Shemaine Bushnell Kyriakides
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US.
It was a day that forever changed the world and became eternally etched in people’s minds across the globe. A total of 2,977 people died that fateful day, 2,753 alone at ground zero where the twin towers stood in New York City.
In the early morning hours of September 11, 2001, two commercial airliners were hijacked and flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, causing both towers to collapse.
When we are at our most vulnerable…unity is our greatest strength
A third hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon, just outside Washington, DC. And a fourth plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania after the crew and passengers attacked the terrorists on board, preventing it from hitting another target, presumably the White House.
The hijackers turned out to be Islamists, linked to al-Qaeda, and had been living in the US for some time prior to the attack.
US President Joe Biden called on Americans to unite. In a videotaped message broadcast yesterday he said, “September 11th has taught me a key lesson. When we are at our most vulnerable…unity is our greatest strength.”
He continued on to say, “Unity does not mean that we should all believe in the same thing, but it is important that we respect each other and have faith in each other,"
Joe Biden and his wife Jill will travel to three iconic sites in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks: New York, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania where ceremonies honouring victims will be held.
Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Nicosia, led by Ambassador Judith Garber, today honored the victims of the attacks by holding an event at the Lefkotheon stadium.
Invited guests were members of the Cyprus Fire Brigade and Cyprus Commandos, along with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Nikos Christodoulides and the Minister of Justice and Public Order, Mrs. Stephie Dracos. All attendeed were asked to participate in walking 2,071 steps around the stadium in honor of the first responders who died in the Twin Tower collapse in New York. 2,071 was the number of steps climbed by first responders to reach victims in the twin tower, which eventually collapsed, killing all who were inside.
In her speech, the US Ambassador said that it was a “solemn day” and she was grateful to everyone who attended. She also thanked the Cyprus Fire brigade for their bravery and fortitude in putting out the fires raging in many parts of Cyprus several weeks ago.
Ambassador Garber also used today's event to announce a donation of fire gear from the US Embassy to the Cyprus Fire Brigade in order to better equip them when fighting fires.
Mr. Christodoulides thanked the US Ambassador for the donation and declared his support in the fight against terrorism and Mrs. Dracos also thanked the US Ambassador for her continued support in Cyprus.
All participants received an honorary medal to commemorate the event today.