Twenty-two years ago today, America held its breath when two planes crashed into the World Trade Centers. 2997 lives were lost on that dreadful morning.
Today, the city of Lansing hosted a memorial service to honor the lives lost and the bravery of not only first responders, but the citizens of the United States. Key members at the memorial included Lansing mayor, Andy Schor, and first responders from across the city.
Mike Tobin, assistant fire chief for the city of Lansing, has spoken at the memorial for the past ten years. Tobin is a key piece to the memorial service, and for him, the tragic events of 9/11 hit close to home.
“I’m a native New Yorker," Tobin said. "The events that day were really close to me because I knew a lot of those areas in New York, I knew a few of the people that were down there."
Tobin reflects on the growth that our country had following the attacks.
“The importance of that day and the memory of that day is not so much the terrorist events themselves, but what we did as a people and as a country that day and the days after,” Tobin said.
The perspective Tobin shares is an optimistic one. He reinforces that 9/11 should not only be remembered for the fateful event which occurred, but for the resilience of our nation and the action of the American people.
When the planes hit the towers, Air Force Brigadier General Rolf Mammen was not at work, or dropping his kids off at school, he was piloting an airplane, a flight bound to land at JFK Airport in New York. Mammen described being in the air during the events as surreal.
As Mammen and his co-pilot were strategizing a plan to land, he remembers the communication between the cockpit and air-traffic controllers.
“You could tell that they were under a lot of stress because they were trying to get all the airplanes sorted out,” Mammen said. “Two minutes later they closed U.S. Airspace down, at that point Halifax was literally 80 miles to our right, and they said that’s where you’re going and we were on the ground in a matter of minutes.”
Tobin said 9/11 is one of the most video documented events in the history of the U.S., urging individuals to understand the significance of the day.
“Pay attention to it, understand it, learn it, watch it," Tobin said. "Just don’t push it aside as a two minute clip on social media. Understand the personality of the event.”
As the years have passed, Tobin said the attendance of the Lansing memorial slowly decreases.
“It's difficult, the first few years we had massive attendance,” Tobin said. “ Over the years, it's just kind of dwindled down. I think just like any historical event people have a tendency to slowly evolve into it becoming another day in their life.”
In Mammen’s speech, he detailed the behavior of the country post 9/11.
“Even as that day recedes into the past, its impact is with us," Mammen said. "It profoundly shaped the way we do our jobs, the way we collaborate and communicate with our partners, and the way we tackle challenges.”
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