Remembering September 11, 2001

Last edited 02/15/2023
To: All DOI Employees



We all remember where we were on September 11, 2001—one of the few days in American history where the world seemed to stand still. We will never forget how that tragic day transformed us as a people and as a Nation.

For me, shortly after the Twin Towers were hit, I recall being in the Secretary of the Interior’s office watching the news, when we saw smoke billowing out of the Pentagon. The security detail began to evacuate the Secretary and I could tell that America was under attack.

Eighteen years later, that memory is as crystal clear as our collective sense of loss. As Americans, we take the time to recognize and remember the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Each year, we honor the nearly 3,000 innocent lives lost in the Twin Towers, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The Flight 93 National Memorial, administered by our National Park Service, plays a vital role in our remembrance of those lost in the 9/11 attacks.

This year, Americans born after the attacks have enrolled in college, where they join peers who have no direct memory of what transpired in 2001. For them, 9/11 is a historical event—a date like so few others, permanently engrained in our memory. The Flight 93 National Memorial is vital to sharing that story with the world, and the Department of the Interior is proud of our role in recognizing and remembering the victims of the attacks.

Among those brave heroes on Flight 93 was Richard Guadagno, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee. Recovery efforts at the wreckage site were difficult and devastating, but a month after the crash, investigators found Mr. Guadagno’s FWS badge—fully intact and resting in a nearby tree.  

That badge—on display at the Memorial’s Visitor Center—serves as a moving reminder of all our fallen colleagues at the Department who have gone beyond the call of duty to keep our fellow citizens, our communities, and our lands safe. For all Americans, that badge is a tangible symbol of the losses our Nation suffered.

May God bless the victims of 9/11 and their loved ones, and may God bless the United States of America.


Secretary David L. Bernhardt

[signed memorandum]

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