Puerto Rico to commemorate 20th anniversary of 9-11 attacks
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
The Puerto Rico Capitol Superintendency, along with the island National Guard, announced Thursday a ceremony to be held Saturday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 attacks, where 2,977 citizens were killed in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Capitol Superintendent César Hernández said during a press conference that the event, starting at 8:30 a.m., is expected to gather the island’s public safety entities and branches of government at the North Wing of the Capitol in remembrance of the Puerto Rican lives lost in the terrorist attacks launched by the Islamic extremist group al Qaeda.
“Representing us will be rescue workers who participated in these events after the 9/11 attack, at ground zero, in New York,” Hernández said. “We will be honored by the Puerto Rico National Guard with a military action that will serve as a prelude to the protocol acts of that day.”
Hernández told members of the press that one of the aims of the event is to remind people of the efforts of rescue workers from the island, including Emergency Management and Disaster Administration Commissioner Nino Correa Filomeno, to help out at the attack site in New York City.
“It is a historic date that we can use to join forces and rethink everything that happened 20 years after,” he said.
Meanwhile, Adjutant Gen. José Reyes said the event is also about remembering the “vile terrorist attacks” and understanding that “freedom and democracy have a price.”
“Over 300,000 men and women in Puerto Rico have enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces; today, over 36,000 Puerto Ricans compose the services provided by the armed forces,” he said. “It is an unbreakable commitment to serve Puerto Rico, our nation, in defense of our democracy and lifestyles.”
Hernández said that along with Reyes, it is expected that Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón, Senate President José Luis Dalmau Santiago and House Speaker Rafael Hernández Montañez will speak at the commemoration.
According to the 9-11 Memorial Museum, some 19 terrorists from al Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001.
Two of the planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, while a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and a fourth crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pa.
The events led the U.S. government, under then-President George W. Bush, to send troops into Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, to combat terrorism, and Iraq on March 20, 2003, amid reports of weapons of mass destruction that turned out to be false.
According to the Watson Institute of International & Public Affairs of Brown University, the number of people killed directly in the violence of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was up to 482,000 people. The same institute estimates the U.S. budgetary cost of the post-9/11 wars has been around $8 trillion.
The commemoration in Puerto Rico comes after President Joe Biden said this week that the nation, for the first time, will commemorate the 9-11 attacks without declared wars in Afghanistan or Iraq as part of its military operations against terrorism.