Gone but never forgotten: Looking back on the Michigan lives lost in the September 11 attacks

Students who were born after 9-11 learn about America's history
Posted at 1:46 PM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-09 18:34:23-04

This week we mark the twenty year anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Nearly three thousand people lost their lives when terrorists used airplanes to attack the United States.

Jacob Campbell is a senior at the University of Michigan studying business. The semester just started and he is getting ready to leave for New York City.


"We are going to take the weekend as a family, everyone that is left, and go down to the ceremony on Saturday morning," said Jacob.

He will attend the 20th anniversary commemoration at the National September 11 Memorial. Jacob was an infant when his, mom Jill Maurer-Campbell, went to work on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center.

"I heard a story that there was a phone call when they were evacuating. She went back to answer the phone call. Everybody got out and she didn’t," he said.

He added, "As a kid, I had once asked my grandparents if she had legs. All I had seen was pictures of her from the waist up at parties and stuff. It is weird. You get a sense of reading history, because you are learning about her from articles, videos and stories from other people. She loved to travel. She loved to laugh and make people smile."

His dad, a police officer and his grandpa a firefighter, searched for her and thousands of others lost in the debris. It cost his grandpa his life.

"He did what he could for a short period of time and ended up contracting 9-11 cancer from it," said Jacob.

As we mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, students in classes around the country will get a history lesson, about something that happened before they were born.

"The first time I learned or heard about 9/11, it was in school," said Sky Ueki, a Novi High School junior.

"Third grade, I think they decided was a good time to tell us," said Olivia Ilagan, a Novi High School senior.

Ovyua Loganathan, a Novi High School junior, said, "a lot of people that are older that have lived through it have always talked about the change after 9-11, how their lives drastically changed, but we have always grown up in this new reality."

Patrick Anderson is the founder of The Michigan Remembers 9-11 Fund, which aims to honor the 42 people with Michigan ties who died in the attacks of 9-11. He will speak at a ceremony at the Wayne County First Responders Memorial in Plymouth on Saturday.

Plymouth 9-11 Ceremony Flyer by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd

"In the 5 year anniversary of 9-11, myself and other people felt that we were in danger of losing first hadn’t knowledge of what had happened," said Anderson. "I was in the WTC when the first plane hit, so I actually felt the first plane hit."

He said he wants people to understand that innocent Americans were lost that day.

"They didn’t know what was happening. They were literally trying to kill as many as people as possible," said Anderson.

He added, "I am only here because I had firefighters that helped me get out, some of whom did not get out themselves. I want Americans to know not only about the loss, but also about the heroism. Because that is part of our character as a country."

The 9-11 Education Trustalso works to help develop curriculum to make sure those lost and those who rushed to help are not forgotten.

Campbell is on the board of the trust. He hopes by remembering the tragedies we collectively survived as a nation, Americans remember this, in honor of his mom.

"How short and fragile life can be, having perspective is something the country had immediately after, but in day-to-day life is something that has been lost," said Campbell.