September 11, 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of September 11 attacks often referred as 9/11 attacks when America faced one of the most violent and indiscriminate acts of terrorism in modern history. Nineteen men hijacked four planes and led them to their target: two New York City skyscrapers known as the Twin Towers. They were the tallest buildings in United States of America at the time, and they were reduced to rubble in minutes. The attacks killed 3,000 people across three different locations: New York City; Washington D.C.; and Shanksville, Pennsylvania where Flight 93 crashed into a field. 9/11 fundamentally changed the world’s landscape when it came to terrorism, as we faced enemies that are not only nation-states but extremist groups who are hell bent to destroy our way of life.

9/11 attack
Photo credits to Zee News Network

The United States had never experienced such a tragedy, nor was the world prepared for such an event. In the decade that has passed since that day, we have had many questions about what happened on September 11th and how we can prevent such tragedies from occurring again in the future.

In response to this unprecedented tragedy, America has prepared a number of memorials and museums across the country, memorials that continue to educate the public on the events of 9/11 and their aftermath. For a nation that was largely unaware of these attacks at the time, it only made sense that we would build memorials to these men, women, and children.

One of my favorite memorials is located in the New York City borough of Staten Island. The North Shore Towers Church sits on the former site of the Twin Towers, which was obliterated on September 11th, 2001. A congregation called St. Gabriel’s Church has transformed into St. Gabriel’s Chapel (the name now appears on their website). It’s located at 3401 Richmond Road, Staten Island, NY 10309 and is open to the public for free every Tuesday-Saturday until 4:00 pm. The memorial is comprised of two pieces of sacred ground. The first is the chapel that stands where the towers once were, the second is a nearby field of grass preserved exactly how it looked on 9/11.

The chapel is an awe-inspiring piece of work. It was designed by Ralph A. Kennard, who had previously worked on the Shrine of St. Joseph’s in New Jersey, and took more than four years to complete. The architecture is unique and innovative, and the stained-glass windows acknowledge many different faiths (including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism). It was truly meant to uplift the spirits of those who visit.
The nearby field of grass is simple and striking. The Twin Towers stood in this field for decades before they were destroyed. A tree that lived in this field (which was already dying) became a memorial to the fallen tower workers after it miraculously survived the attacks. The tree was originally cut down, but the stump and the base of the tree remain. The turf is untouched, and has not been fixed due to worries of tampering. It’s what you would expect from a field of grass: green, lush, and natural.

There are many memorials like this throughout our country; we can’t forget what happened that day. We cannot allow the past to define us or hold us back. We have to learn from these events, and make sure they never happen again. It’s time to remember 9/11.