Hanna Born was three years old and her sister Heather was just four months old at the time of the attack.
The 9/11 attacks and their devastating impact continue to linger even decades after the horrifying incident. Thousands died when hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 intentionally crashed into the North and South Towers at the World Trade Center. A third plane crashed at a field in Pennsylvania and the final one crashed into the Pentagon. CNN reports that 2,977 people were killed in New York City, Washington, DC, and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania as a result of the attacks. One hundred and eighty-four people were killed when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
Just 200 yards from the Pentagon, around 140 infants and toddlers were playing in the Defense Department's Child Development Center. Three-year-old Hanna Born and her four-month-old sister Heather were in the daycare center that day. While Heather has no recollection of the incident, Hanna does. "I was in the daycare center playing and dancing with some of my classmates," Hanna told CBS News in an interview in Washington, D.C. "We were playing with those dance ribbons, and then the next thing I can remember was kind of being in the hallway."
Hanna Born was 3 years old and her sister Heather was 4 months old, when a plane struck the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Now, both of them are in the military. https://t.co/BYk2qI3PmF— THV11 (@THV11) September 7, 2021
Fortunately, the children at the daycare center did not suffer injuries from the attack but there was panic when the plane hit and engulfed the west side of the Pentagon in flames. "I began to feel sensory overload, especially after exiting the building. Because that's when you really saw just a groundswell of people coming out of the building," Hanna recalled. "Obviously, you had the noises from the fire alarms, you had basically every type of emergency vehicle, the sirens from that, and you had jets and helicopters from overhead making noise, and on top of that, just a really acrid smell from the burning jet fuel and smoke." The children were evacuated from the center and emergency service members helped them move the babies and infants by placing them in cribs and taking them to a park nearby. "I don't think we know really any of the names of anyone involved," Hanna said. "Despite not getting any public recognition for what they did that day, I just hope they know how their actions have inspired my sister and I and how we hope to pay it forward."
The incident, along with the fact that both their parents have military backgrounds, inspired the sisters to serve and help others. The sisters are both in the U.S. military, dedicated to serving their country. Hanna graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2019 and Heather is a midshipman in the Naval Academy's class of 2023. "There's been so many lives that have been forever changed by the events of that day and everything that has ensued afterwards, so I think for us, it's just constantly about remembering and figuring out what we can do to best honor them," Hanna said. When Hanna and her sister recently visited the Pentagon Memorial, they were in awe of how many of the young trees that were planted among the benches years ago have grown since. "When we had moved away from D.C., the trees were pretty small that they planted, and since then they've grown, so it's just kind of striking to see how much life is rising in that area," she said