Editor’s Note: “Their Way” is a regular Sunday column that captures the personal style of the many public officials and other personalities and events covered by former Mesabi Daily News Executive Editor Bill Hanna during his more than 40 years of newspaper reporting, writing and editing.
It was a day of names and numbers — so many numbers — that cannot ever be forgotten.
Wednesday, the names of nearly 3,000 people who were killed in the horrific terrorist attacks on America’s homeland on Sept. 11, 2001, will be read once again in solemn ceremonies at New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and at a memorial in a field in Shanksville, Pa.
It’s a poignant tradition of 9/11 that should never, ever get old; and must never, ever be slighted in any way, no matter the feelings of so much sadness it revives.
We need to honor their lives for generation after generation through ceremonies in their honor throughout the country.
The names of those innocents who were killed at the hands of 19 evil men fueled by an obsessive and sick hatred for American values and society, must always be with us. To do anything else is to allow the murderers a sense of ugly accomplishment.
The scum who flew those planes of death into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, while a third was taken down by passenger/heroes in Pennsylvania, are now the worst of the worst historical villains. They will forever be remembered with contempt and deserving disdain for who they were — cowardly terrorists not worthy of the beauty of life in this world.
But the victims who were in the air and those who were going through their daily routines of life will be forever remembered in loving ways and tributes from the heart by those who were loved ones and those of us not knowing them before 9/11.
They were mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandparents and friends manyfold of those left with grief for a lifetime.
And the 9/11 numbers have continued to be tallied long after that fateful day. More than 2,000 people have died post-9/11 of illness related to the attacks.
Here are some more 9/11 numbers you may not know:
• 3,051 children lost a parent in the 9/11 attacks.
• 17 babies were born to women whose husbands were killed that day in the attacks.
• Nine months after 9/11, births in New York City rose by 20 percent compared to the same month a year earlier.
• Speaking of percentages, smoking, drinking and church/synagogue attendance also rose in a year’s time in Manhattan. Smoking was up 10 percent; alcohol usage 25 percent; and church visitors 20 percent.
• Valuable artworks were lost on 9/11. More then $100 million worth of irreplaceable art, including paintings and sculptures, were destroyed in the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers that collapsed in fiery devastation wrought by two commercial airliners that were crashed into them.
• You may have never heard of a yellow Labrador named Roselle or its blind owner Michael Hingson. Roselle led Michael to safety down 78 floors of the North Tower, out to the street and to a home of a friend. Man’s best friend in good times or times of crisis.
Of the bodies recovered from Ground Zero, only 291 were intact.
• Lisa Ann Frost, 22, was a passenger on United Flight 175, which hit the South Tower. Lisa’s parents had to wait about a year before workers at the crash site found anything belonging to her.
• More than 1 million tons of debris was searched through for human remains and personal effects. Here’s some of what they found: 65,000 items; 437 watches; 144 wedding rings.
• Three hours before the attacks, a machine called a Random Event Generator at Princeton University predicted a cataclysmic event was about to unfold.
• In an exercise named “Vigilant Guardian,” NORAD, which is responsible for defending U.S. airspace, simulated at least four plane hijackings in the week leading up to 9/11 and was scheduled to simulate another one on the morning of the attacks.
So many numbers; too many numbers.
On Wednesday there will be plenty of political speeches and reflections on that day of sorrow and also glorious acts of courage 18 years ago.
And, unfortunately, there will also be tweets and texts and electronic words of political nastiness and stupidity, and uncivil words of boorish loathing from our enemies.
Par for the course, but try to ignore them. Wednesday should not be a day to allow any time for such blowhard and evil stupidity.
I will, most fortunately, be far from the political echo chamber while at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre just west of Denver. We had planned to be there in 9/11 2017 and then 9/11 2018, but a medical issue determined otherwise.
A 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb event amid Colorado’s spectacular mountains and rugged red rocks will honor the brave firefighters of New York City who died on 9/11/2001 — all 343 of them.
We will climb steps in their memories representing those in the Twin Towers.
9/11/2001 — Never, Ever Forget!