“There’s been so many lives that have been forever changed by the events of that day,” said Second Lieutenant Hanna Born.
On September 11, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, 140 infants and toddlers were playing about 200 yards away in the Defense Department’s Child Development Center. Hanna and Heather Born, whose mother, retired Brigadier General Dana Born, was stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling at the time, were among them. Twenty-one years later, both Born sisters are in the United States military, dedicated to serving their country. Second Lieutenant Hanna Born, who was only three years old at the time of the attacks, graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2019, while her younger sister Heather is now a midshipman in the Naval Academy’s class of 2023, according to CBS News.
An Infant Girl And Her Older Sister Were In The Pentagon Day Care Center On 9/11. Today They’re In The U.S. Military https://t.co/tc6j2USHKE pic.twitter.com/hgz3MmtXh1— CBSColorado (@CBSNewsColorado) September 7, 2021
In a recent interview with the network in Washington, D.C., Hanna revealed that she still has some fragmented memories of the 9/11 attacks.
“I was in the daycare center playing and dancing with some of my classmates,” she recalled.
“We were playing with those dance ribbons, and then the next thing I can remember was kind of being in the hallway. 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.”
“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,” Hanna recalled.
On September 11, 2001, 19 terrorists hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the U.S.— WRTV Indianapolis (@wrtv) September 11, 2019
Two planes were flown into the World Trade Center, a third plane hit the Pentagon and a fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. pic.twitter.com/7vYH1YPWER
She explained that service members arrived quickly to evacuate the daycare because some of the staff members were elderly and needed assistance moving the infants and toddlers out of the building. The babies were loaded into cribs and transported to a park near the Potomac River.
“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.”
Heather, unlike Hanna, has no recollection of 9/11 because she was only 4 months old at the time. In the days following the attack, the sisters’ father—a retired marine who had previously been stationed at the Pentagon—took them to a hill overlooking the Pentagon to help them understand and process what had happened, as well as to show them the ongoing recovery efforts.
Brigadier General Born, their mother, revealed that in the aftermath of 9/11, Hanna would spend hours drawing pictures of her experience that day in order to understand what had happened.
The front page #OTD in 2001. Hijacked jets destroy Twin Towers and hit Pentagon in day of terror. #nytimes pic.twitter.com/PWFtPJ49VL— New York Times OTD (@OnThisDayNYT) September 12, 2016
“We sat by her side the entire time to support and comfort her while also answering questions as she attempted to ‘process’ exactly what happened,” said Born. “The more she drew, the less anxious she appeared, since she was gradually piecing things together from that horrific day that was difficult for even adults to comprehend.”
Despite the fact that no children at the daycare center were killed or injured in the Pentagon attack, the Child Development Center, which was housed in a building on the Pentagon campus across from where the plane crashed, closed in 2004 due to safety concerns. The sisters were inspired to join the military after witnessing the traumatic attacks and growing up on military bases.
Hanna and Heather Born were in the Pentagon’s daycare center on Sept. 11, 2001. Twenty years later, they are carrying on the legacy of the members of the military killed in the attack. Find other 9/11 remembrances on our special page: https://t.co/4xvqqlv2tD pic.twitter.com/NQIQRnkYlz— WNCT (@wnct9) September 8, 2021
“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.