Today, on September 11, 2021, the people of Kitchener, Canada and the world pause to commemorate the 20th anniversary of some of the worst evil our planet has witnessed in recent history, as we reflect on the happenings of the 9/11 terror attacks that occurred in New York City, Washington and a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001.

On that horrific day, the world witnessed the senseless deaths of 2977 people, countless others who suffered serious injuries and long-term health issues and thousands of family members and friends of victims who were forever impacted.  That’s 2977 individuals – mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, children, friends – people who woke up that morning, left their home and their loved ones, not realizing they would never see each other again.  Amongst those who perished, 24 of our fellow Canadians lost their lives in the heinous acts of that day.

While the evil and tragedies of 9/11 are forever engrained in our minds, let us also pause to commemorate some of the best of the human spirit and the immense love and kindness that we witnessed in the hours and days that followed 9/11. 

As we pause today, let us also honour the 343 New York City firefighters, 23 New York Police Department police officers, 37 police officers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and 8 EMS professionals, who selflessly gave their lives in public service to others as first-responders to these tragedies.

Let us remember the indelible bond between Canada and the United States that was witnessed in the hours and days following 9/11 as the people of Gander, Newfoundland and surrounding communities opened their doors and welcomed over 7000 people on 38 flights that landed there after airspace was closed, the role local companies like BlackBerry played in supporting communication in the period following the attacks and the commitment of some members of our very own Kitchener Fire Department who travelled to New York City to support the recovery efforts in the days that followed.

This morning, members of Kitchener City Council, Kitchener Fire Department and our community gathered at the Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Kitchener’s Civic Park to pause and remember the worst, and more importantly the best of that tragic event.  We gathered around the steel beam from the World Trade Centre that reminds us of the connection between our two communities and the shared humanity we all share.  And today, we should all pause and reflect on words once delivered by former President Barack Obama, “Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honour those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.”  Today, and every day, let us always honour the memory of this date and the many lives lost and impacted, not with hate or anger, but rather with love, service to others and kindness.