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Pittsburgh Events Commemorate 9/11, Two Decades Later

flight 93 memorial 9-11 september 11 sept 2001 terrorist attack (21).JPG
Laura Tsutsui
90.5 WESA
Flight 93, one of the planes hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001, crashed in an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Saturday marks 20 years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. One of the hijacked planes, Flight 93, crashed in an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania about an hour and a half outside Pittsburgh. Local organizations are commemorating the anniversary with events and ceremonies over the weekend and throughout September.

“Besides the fact that I can’t believe it’s been 20 years, on one hand I think most people would also say it’s hard to believe that’s all that it’s been, because it’s so fresh in everyone’s minds still,” said John McCabe, the president and CEO of Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum.

“It doesn’t take much to conjure up your recollection of where you were that day and what you were doing and how it impacted you that day and of course in the many days to follow, including today and all the changes we have gone through because of what happened on 9/11.”

As part of its anniversary events, Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum arranged more than 7,000 dog tags in an open-air memorial outside the museum. Each dog tag represents a service member who died in war after 9/11. The memorial also includes 300 tags marked with the American flag to represent service members from Pennsylvania.

“Our focus isn’t on just the tragic events of that day, but really what followed because of that day. And that is the two wars we were involved in, the two conflicts being Afghanistan and in Iraq,” said McCabe.

Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum will also hold a short ceremony at dusk on Saturday, Sept. 11.

Other organizations in and around Allegheny County will remember the event with memorial events, community discussions, and more.

Ceremonies, Memorials, and Moments of Silence

  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania will hold a memorial event starting at 11:40 a.m. on Sept. 10. The event will take place in front of the 9/11 memorial in the IUP Oak Grove in Indiana, PA. Speakers at the event will include IUP President Dr. Michael Driscoll, IUP graduate and WITF journalist Tim Lambert, and IUP graduate Bethany Barefoot. A live stream of the event will be available here. IUP Libraries will also host a display about the attacks until the end of September.
  • Duquesne University will place American flags on the College Hall lawn on the morning of Sept. 10. On Sept. 11, there will be a moment of silence held at the flags at 8:46 a.m.
  • Mt. Lebanon Municipality will hold a public ceremony and a silent community walk on Sept. 11, starting at 8:25 a.m. at the Mt. Lebanon Public Safety Center, 555 Washington Road. The ceremony will include readings, a moment of silence, and musical performances. State Rep. Dan Miller and state Sen. Devlin Robinson are both slated to attend.
  • The Westmoreland Historical Society will hold a flag raising ceremony and perform the “reverse arms” military command as a sign of respect and mourning. They will also observe a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11 and perform “Taps.” After the observance, there will be a reading of “an age-appropriate picture book that sensitively discusses the event” for children. Events take place from 8:30 to 9:00 a.m. at Historic Hanna’s Town in Westmoreland County.
  • Carnegie Mellon University will hold moments of remembrance throughout the morning on Sept. 11. A bagpiper will play in front of the 9/11 Memorial Tree at 8:46 a.m., 9:03 a.m., 9:37 a.m. and 10:03 a.m.
  • Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland will remember service members lost in conflicts since 9/11 with an outdoor installation of 7,053 dog tags, including 300 special flag dog tags to represent individual service members from Pennsylvania. The memorial is open 24 hours a day from Sept. 2 to Sept. 30 at 4 p.m. “Taps” will also be played outside the building at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 11.

Community Events and Discussions

  • Duquesne University will host 9/11 at 20 Years: A Forensic Retrospective for faculty, staff, and students on Sept. 9 and Sept. 10 in the Union Ballroom. The event will feature experts in DNA analysis, anthropology, psychology and social work who will discuss 9/11 and its aftermath. The event will also be livestreamed.
  • The University of Pittsburgh will hold an event called Remembering 9/11 at the Posvar Patio Amphitheater from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Sept. 10. Veterans, first responders and other community members will reflect on the event and share their experiences.
  • Duquesne University librarian Dr. Sara Baron and oral historian Cassidee Knott will lead a discussion about “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11” by Garrett Graff on Sept. 10, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. University. Register for the event here.
  • Carnegie Mellon University community members will have the opportunity to attend the 9/11 20th anniversary observance at the Flight 93 Memorial Plaza in Shanksville. A bus will depart from CMU’s campus at 8 a.m. and return around 1 p.m. on Sept. 11. Free tickets can be reserved at CarnegieMellonTickets.com.
  • The Center for Civic Arts will hold their Wilkinsburg Sacred Spaces Art and Culture Community Day at the Center for Civic Arts, 710 Mulberry Street, 15221 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sept. 11. Events will start with church bell chimes in remembrance of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, followed by prayer, an organ recital, and other community events.
  • Duquesne University’s Gumberg Library will host a 9/11 poster exhibit through Sept. 27.
Julia Zenkevich is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at jzenkevich@wesa.fm.