9/11: Pentagon hosting ceremony to remember victims of Sept. 11, 2001 attack

ARLINGTON, Va. — Defense Department officials announced Thursday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley would host President Joe Biden at an observance ceremony Sunday to remember those killed in the 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

The ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington.

Nearly 3,000 people died on Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaida terrorists took control of four commercial flights in the northeast U.S. Two of the planes hit each of the Twin Towers in New York City, and one struck the Pentagon in Virginia. The fourth plane, which hijackers had turned toward Washington, crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers fought back.

The plane that hit the Pentagon struck the building’s southwest corner and sent thick plumes of black smoke into the sky.

“You could feel the building shake when it hit,” Wes Miller, who was a colonel at the Pentagon in 2001, told the Army News Service in 2020. “We immediately got up and started to go through our evacuation procedures. It wasn’t very long before they started making announcements for anyone that had medical training. They needed individuals to come back into the building (after evacuating) and assist.”

The attack heavily damaged the building and claimed the lives of 184 people between the ages of 3 and 71. A memorial honoring the victims has since been built on two acres of land outside where the plane struck on Sept. 11, 2001.

Sunday will mark the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.