For Anne Dennis, the years have passed since her brother Thomas died – trapped at work on Tuesday – have done little to change how she sees this day.
September 11th was “the day I lost my brother, the day my brother died,” said the former Sonoma County attorney, calling this year a “20 year reunion from hell.”
Before becoming the symbol of the worst terrorist attacks in American history, the iconic Twin Towers defined the grandeur of New York City.
They have appeared in many films, including the opening credits of “Working Girl,” a 1988 film starring Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford.
As the youngest of six siblings, Anne and Thomas grew up on Long Island on the New York Peninsula. The 110-story twin skyscrapers of the World Trade Center, which were built in the early 1970s, were landmarks on the siblings’ trips to Manhattan.
Thomas’s two children, on the other hand, knew the towers as “Papa’s building”.
The day before his death, Thomas emailed his sister two new photos of his children. Although Anne had since moved to the west coast, she and Thomas remained close.
Anne Dennis, 65, said she was planning a quiet day on September 11th.
“I stay away from television and pretty much everything else,” she said, allowing her to visit friends or “stay home and remember Tom – have a nice glass of wine”.
Everything that represents the Green Bay Packers reminds Dennis of her brother, who died at the age of 43. He was a staunch fan of the Wisconsin team, even though he lived about 1,000 miles away.
The Catholic Church of St. James in the suburbs of Setauket, where the siblings grew up and where Thomas still lived, dedicated a stone memorial in the cemetery to commemorate him and three other parishioners who died on September 11th.
In response to the US sudden withdrawal from Afghanistan last month, after 20 years of a global war on terrorism declared by then-President George W. Bush shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Anne Dennis expressed her dismay .
In Afghanistan, the Taliban, who took Kabul, are “too conservative for the radicals who want more destruction,” said Dennis.
“It is a tragedy of epic proportions for everyone,” she added, pointing out the similarities with the hasty airlift departure from Vietnam by American civilians and South Vietnamese refugees from Saigon in April 1975.
“We didn’t learn any lessons from Vietnam,” she said.
Thomas Francis Dennis Sr.’s name is one of the 2,983 names engraved on slabs of granite at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum on the grounds of the World Trade Center in New York City.
The monument that bears his name lines two acres of reflective pools in the twin towers’ footprints, with nine-foot waterfalls cascading down the insides of the panels.
Hundreds of swamp white oaks line the surrounding square, which is part of the monument dedicated to the 10th century.
It also commemorates the six people who were killed in the February 26, 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
The 9/11 Memorial includes a museum with a collection of more than 60,000 items depicting “intimate stories of loss, compassion, reckoning and recovery” related to the attack and its aftermath.
Adjacent to the museum is a repository for the remains of 9/11 victims operated by the New York office of the Chief Medical Examiner along with a private room exclusively for 9/11 family members. It is known as the reflection room.
To date, the remains of 1,645 World Trade Center victims – 60% of the 2,753 total – have been positively identified.
Visitors to the memorial came from all 50 US states and more than 190 countries around the world.
You can reach the Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 707-521-5457 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @guykovner.