September 11, 2001 Commemoration

Each year on the anniversary of 9/11, the families of victims gather for a ceremony on the 9/11 Memorial plaza to read aloud the names of the 2,983 men, women, and children killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks and February 26, 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Six moments of silence mark the times when each of the World Trade Center towers was struck, when each tower fell, and the times corresponding to the attack at the Pentagon, and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.

A small American flag and a hand-written note have been placed at a victim’s name on a bronze parapet at the Memorial. The note is written on a piece of cloth and reads “Grandpa.” Water cascades down a lit reflecting pool in the background.
Photo by Ben Hider
Water cascades down the illuminated walls of the North Tower reflecting pool on a warm night. The water pours down a square hole at the center of the pool. In the distance, a moon hangs over the city and the Tribute in Light shines above the buildings.
Photo by Jin S. Lee

Tribute in Light

Tribute in Light is a commemorative public art installation first presented six months after 9/11 and then every year thereafter, from dusk to dawn, on the night of September 11. It has become an iconic symbol that both honors those killed and celebrates the unbreakable spirit of New York.

A woman visits the In Memoriam exhibition. On the wall in front of her and to her right are 2,983 portrait photographs of the victims.
Photo by Dan Winters

Memorial Exhibition: In Memoriam

Remembering the victims is at the heart of commemoration. The memorial exhibition honors the 2,977 individuals killed as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, at this site as well as at the Pentagon and in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. It also honors the six individuals killed in the terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993. This exhibition remembers these people for how they lived their lives, rather than how they died. 

The Twin Towers stand over the rest of Lower Manhattan at night. The light of buildings reflects off the East River as the last rays of sunlight create a blue hue over the skyline.
Photo by Jonathan Lockwood Smith

Collection 9/11 Museum, Gift of Jonathan Lockwood Smith, JLS Photo

World Trade Center History

As years pass, acts of commemoration will raise questions for people without personal memories of the World Trade Center. Learn more about the Twin Towers, which were the centerpieces of the original World Trade Center complex. At 110 stories each, 1 WTC (North Tower) and 2 WTC (South Tower) provided nearly 10 million square feet of office space for about 35,000 people and 430 companies. 

Dozens of people approach after walking across the Brooklyn Bridge on September Eleventh. They have dust and soot from the World Trade Center in their hair. Behind them, hundreds more people cross the bridge. In the distance is the skyline of lower Manhattan, with a cloud of smoke hovering over downtown.
Collection 9/11 Museum, Roberto Rabanne Archive
Photo by Roberto Rabanne

September 11 Attack Timeline

Understanding the events of the day is essential to commemoration. This interactive timeline uses images, audio, and video, as well as first-person accounts from the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s permanent collection, to chronicle the events of September 11, 2001.

Students sit in a row as they look forward and listen to a speaker who is out of view in the Museum auditorium.
Photo by Jin S. Lee

Anniversary in the Schools Webinar

Offered every year on and around the 9/11 anniversary, this interactive program connects participants with 9/11 Memorial Museum staff and guest speakers who share personal stories about the attacks and explore the importance of commemoration. 

A woman with a backpack holds a young girl with a ponytail as they both look at one of the Memorial’s reflecting pools on a sunny day. Green oak trees and buildings are seen farther afield.
Photo by Jin S. Lee

Talking to Children About 9/11

Terrorist attacks and acts of extreme violence around the world evoke strong emotions and questions in all of us. Anniversaries of terrorist attacks and moments of commemoration often prompt these difficult emotions and questions for children as well. We have prepared tips as broad guidelines to help parents and caregivers navigate talking to children about terrorism and other mass casualty events.

A bunch of sunflowers rest on the 9/11 Memorial, which is cast in a shimmery yellow and blue light. Two American flags rest alongside it.
Photo by Jin S. Lee

Plan Your Own 9/11 Anniversary Observance

The following are programmatic elements to consider when planning your 9/11 anniversary observance. 

Observe Moments of Silence

Observe a moment of silence on September 11 at any or all of the following times marking key moments on 9/11. Every year, the moments below are observed as part of the official 9/11 anniversary commemoration ceremony held at the World Trade Center for victims’ families.

8:46 a.m.: Hijackers deliberately crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into floors 93 through 99 of the North Tower.
9:03 a.m.: Hijackers deliberately crashed United Airlines Flight 175 into floors 77 through 85 of the South Tower.
9:37 a.m.: Hijackers deliberately crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon, near Washington, D.C.
9:59 a.m.: The South Tower collapsed.
10:03 a.m.: After learning of the other attacks, passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 launched a counterattack on hijackers aboard their plane to try to seize control of the aircraft. In response, the hijackers crashed the plane into an empty field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
10:28 a.m.: The North Tower collapsed, leaving the 16-acre World Trade Center site in ruins and collateral damage affecting all adjacent properties and streets. The rescue effort commenced immediately.

Toll Bells

Toll bells on September 11 at 8:46 a.m. or at each of the times listed above.

Read the Names of the Victims Aloud

The names of the men, women, and children killed as a result of the 9/11 attacks have been read aloud at the official 9/11 anniversary commemoration in New York City every year. This list of names inscribed on the 9/11 Memorial includes all those killed in the 9/11 attacks and the six individuals killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

The 9/11 Memorial Guide allows users to select specific victim names or groups of names, including names of individuals from a certain town or state, a specific company, or first-responder agency.

Lower Flags in Remembrance

Lower flags to half-staff on the anniversary of 9/11. Flags may be lowered at 8:46 a.m. to mark the moment when Flight 11 struck the North Tower.

Lesson Plans

Explore a host of inquiry-based lesson plans for K to 12 students and their teachers.

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9/11 Memorial Glade

The Glade honors those who are sick or have died from exposure to toxins in the aftermath of 9/11.

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