A Resilient Nation Comes Together
On September 11th, 2001, The United States of America was attacked by 19 radical Islamic al-Qaeda terrorists using four airplanes on three fronts. Two planes struck the twin World Trade Center’s North and South Towers in New York City. Another plane hit the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and a fourth plane, thought to be headed for Washington, D.C., crashed in a field in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, near Shanksville, PA.
On 9/11, first responders of all types jumped into action, but the actions of the United States Coast Guard on this day forever changed this branch of service and its priorities.
After the towers fell, clouds of dust and smoke permeated the streets. Power outages and blocked roads, tunnels, and bridges limited escape options for many south of the towers. The 9/11 Boatlift, as it came to be known, was the largest Coast Guard led maritime/water evacuation in U.S. history, bigger than Dunkirk, evacuating nearly 500,000 people stranded in Battery Park in southern Manhattan.
With more than 150 vessels and 600 sailors helping in the evacuation and later delivering supplies in the days following the attack, Commandant of the Coast Guard James Loy was led to make the comparison to that famous 1940 evacuation of Allied troops from France.
Unlike other branches of the armed forces, the Coast Guard’s mandated missions are varied, including: monitoring drug trafficking, search and rescue, defense readiness, licensing commercial mariners and marine safety. Following 9/11, port security became their top priority. In 2003, the Coast Guard ceased to be a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation and became a division of the Department of Homeland Security. However, the Coast Guard is still considered a military service because, during times of war or conflict, the President of the United States can transfer any or all assets of the Coast Guard to the Department of the Navy. Admiral James Loy noted, “The Coast Guard is the fifth military service but the one with all those other jobs to do. 9/11 drove that home.” Lessons learned and skills honed by the Coast Guard on 9/11 served them well when later called upon to respond to natural disasters (Hurricane Katrina and Storm Sandy).
On that beautiful September day, following the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil, the American spirit soared. First responders of every kind and everyday people responded by offering lifesaving, selfless acts transforming New York, and the whole nation, into a place of hope.
My Artist Statement
The War on Terror, America’s response to being attacked by 19 radical Islamic al-Qaeda terrorists using four airplanes on three fronts on September 11th, 2001, is also recognized simply as 9/11.
This quilt highlights the efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard.
On 9/11, first responders of all types jumped into action, but the actions of the U.S. Coast Guard on this day forever changed this branch of service and its priorities.
The 9/11 Boatlift, as it came to be known, was the largest Coast Guard led maritime/water evacuation in U.S. history, bigger than Dunkirk, evacuating nearly 500,000 people stranded in Battery Park in southern Manhattan. More than 150 vessels and 600 sailors helped in the evacuation and later delivered supplies in the days following the attack, leading Coast Guard Commandant James Loy to make the comparison to that famous 1940 evacuation of Allied troops from France.
In a speech to Congress September 20, 2001, President George W. Bush announced the U.S. response to 9/11 would be a War on Terror. In part, he said, “Our war on terror begins with al-Qaida, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated.”
In the face of horror intended to divide and destroy, Americans instead came together united in community and comity resourcefully offering compassion and assistance, surviving and thriving.
In the shape of the Pentagon, this quilt’s yellow ribbon honors and shows America’s support of our troops and all first responders who fight so bravely here at home and, later, abroad. It identifies the start of this war, commands we never forget, and summarizes the message of all five of my Memorial Day quilts, namely that, “Freedom isn’t free!”
Inside this yellow ribbon, the Coast Guard responds as smoke from the twin towers shows all that America has been attacked. As on that day, puffy white clouds fill beautiful blue skies, a plane is seen flying between New York high-rise buildings, and a barren, charred field shows little remains of the crash of United Airline Flight 93.
In the lower right corner outside the Pentagon I placed a red poppy, not yet fully opened, in a field of black symbolizing somber mourning of our nation’s loss.
The lower right corner inside the Pentagon depicts the National 9/11 Memorial, the design of which was aptly titled Reflecting Absence (designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker), located at the site of the World Trade Center in New York City and I placed an American bald eagle, the emblem of the United States, looking back at the viewer challenging all to remember the price of peace, the price of freedom, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.
The quote attributed to German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche also comes to mind; “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”
May it always be so!
Researched, designed, pieced, appliqued, embellished, embroidered, painted, and free motion quilted by Sue Hickman. Completed 2/24/2020.