This year marks 22 years since September 11, 2001, a day that forever changed New York City. Amid the annual memorials for fallen men and women, the city announced two newly identified victims who died as a result of the terrorist attacks.
Everyday New Yorkers, surviving family members, and elected officials of every caliber paused to offer heartfelt support for those lost and promised to never forget.
“On one of the most horrific days in our nation’s history, thousands of first responders leapt into action and ran towards danger to save their fellow Americans,” said House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries in a statement. “Hundreds lost their lives and many continue to suffer from illnesses from their service at Ground Zero on that fateful day. They represent the best of us and House Democrats are committed to ensuring that these brave men and women receive the support they deserve.”
In a series of interviews, Mayor Eric Adams spoke about where he was and what he was doing back in 2001. He was an NYPD lieutenant in the 88th Precinct at the time and his younger brother was a sergeant. He said he was on the Upper West Side in Manhattan helping out with a campaign on the morning of the attacks. He got stranded when the attack shut down the subways, so he opted to walk downtown.
“And when I started to get across the bridge, the Manhattan Bridge at the time was closed down. I just saw people in all sorts of dust and particles [of debris]. [There was] the realization that the buildings collapsed [and] had not settled in yet,” said Adams in describing the scene. “I just thought it was the smoke and the soot coming from the airplanes hitting the buildings.”
It is estimated that nearly 3,000 people died in the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon locations. At least 2,753 people were lost in New York City, but 22 years later, remains are still being identified. Adams and Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) Dr. Jason Graham announced two new identifications—a man and woman whose names are being withheld at the request of their families—as the 1,648th and 1,649th individuals to be found using advanced DNA testing.
“We hope these new identifications can bring some measure of comfort to the families of these victims,” said Adams in a statement. “The ongoing efforts by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner attest to the city’s unwavering commitment to reunite all the World Trade Center victims with their loved ones.”
Some 1,104 victims—40% of those who died in the attacks—remain unidentified, said the city.
“More than 20 years after the disaster, these two new identifications continue to fulfill a solemn pledge that OCME made to return the remains of World Trade Center victims to their loved ones,” said Graham. “Faced with the largest and most complex forensic investigation in the history of our country, we stand undaunted in our mission to use the latest advances in science to serve this promise.”
Adams said that he was afraid on that day, but committed to keeping the city safe and seeing it get back on its feet—a sentiment he has very much made the bedrock of his administration.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about politics for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting https://bit.ly/amnews1.