9/11 to remain deeply etched in our memory

9/11 to remain deeply etched in our memory

The remains of a Cavalier native killed nearly 80 years ago at Pearl Harbor will be returned to be buried at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery south of Mandan on Oct. 1.

Floyd Wells, a U.S. Navy crewman, was a radio operator on the USS Arizona when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. The attack killed 1,177 crewmen on the Arizona. Wells’ remains were recently identified through DNA testing.

Why do we mention Wells’ death on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001? Because it demonstrates that this nation doesn’t forget those who sacrificed their lives for their country.

While Wells was a service member, he was in a peaceful setting when killed in a surprise attack, just like the victims of 9/11. U.S. officials never quit trying to identify the remains of those killed nearly 80 years ago. The efforts continue today.

Attempts to identify those killed on 9/11 will no doubt continue a long time.

It’s been 18 years since 9/11, enough time for a child to be born and graduate from high school. While that’s enough time for memories to fade, the images of that day remain vivid for those who lived through it, and they can tell you where they were when they learned of the attacks.

The numbers from that day are still staggering. Four planes crashed, two into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon and the fourth near Shanksville, Pa., when passengers tried to retake the aircraft.

There were 2,996 people killed, including the 19 hijackers, and more than 6,000 injured. The four planes involved claimed 265 people including the terrorists. At the World Trade Center and surrounding area there were 2,606 deaths, and 125 died at the Pentagon. Most victims were civilians, but 343 firefighters and 71 law enforcement officers were killed at the trade center; another law enforcement officer died when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a field near Shanksville. There were 55 military personnel killed at the Pentagon.

Two native North Dakotans died at the World Trade Center. Ann Nicole Nelson, a Stanley native, was working for the Cantor Fitzgerald investment firm on the 104th floor of the north tower when the planes crashed. James Halvorson, a 1963 graduate of Devils Lake High School, also died at the twin towers.

Life changed in the U.S. on Sept. 11, and it hasn’t been the same since. We went to war, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. Just this past week, President Donald Trump called off talks with the Taliban aimed at ending the conflict. His action was prompted by a terrorist attack that killed a U.S. serviceman in Afghanistan.

Today, Americans will mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and North Dakotans will take time to remember.

The 2019 North Dakota Memorial Climb will be held Friday at the Capitol to honor New York firefighters who died at the World Trade Center. Participants will climb the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center at the Capitol. Registration is at 8 a.m., a program is at 9 a.m. and the climb is from 9:15 a.m. to noon.

Like Pearl Harbor, memories of 9/11 will fade and there will be fewer memorials held. Like Pearl Harbor, 9/11 won’t be forgotten. Even those who weren’t alive during 9/11 will learn about it and honor those who died. It will remain a defining moment in this nation’s history.


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