SANTA BARBARA, Calif.- People from all over the South Coast gathered together in remembrance of September 11, 2001.
It’s been more than 2 decades since the two planes crashed into the twin towers of the world trade center and rattled the nation.
But after 21 years, people still remember this national tragedy.
“It's really bad that it happened and it was a terrorist attack. But America came together and they cried for New York. They cried for the others. And I don't know how to compare it, because we don't have that today,” said South Coast Resident Wendy Kelly.
Close to 3,000 people died that day, with more than 6,000 facing injuries.
Many are still grieving their lost loved ones.
“Today is so much different. We couldn't even come together for people dying. So many people dying. Wearing masks was a big issue. And also the vaccines. Science was an issue. Everything was attacked and America attacked each other,” said Kelly
Kelly compared the anti asian hate that resulted from how the trump administration handled the pandemic to the anti Arab hate and Islamaphobia that resulted from how the bush administration handled 9/11.
American citizens like Vanessa Fayad dealt with the backlash of Islamaphobia and anti Arab rhetoric in the united states.
“It was an easier thing for people to call me a terrorist if they were upset. I had already been believe a lot for being Middle Eastern. I just feel like it just was scarier. I didn't want to tell people where I was from. There was even a period where I would lie about my ethnicity,” said Lebanese American Citizen Vanessa Fayad.
Despite being a proud American citizen, Vanessa faced years of bullying in school because of her Lebanese heritage.
“Some people learn to judge others based on their skin tone, their color, their name. I have a lot of friends whose name is Osama. It's a popular Arabic name. And that name now is, I think, even to this day it's rough having that name here,” said Fayad.
According to Brown University’s International and Public Affairs Department, the total number of reported hate crime incidents directed towards Muslims in the United States increased by over 500 percent from 2000- 2009.
“It’s a very sad event, and I think we didn’t know how to handle it as humans,” said Fayad.
Despite the horrific acts Americans endured, the nation also beared witness to acts of bravery— with firefighters and others who risked their lives to save the innocent civilians caught in the rubble.
“It's definitely going to be in the history books. But as tragic as it was, there were so many heroes, so many good people who did good things and America became united,” said Kelly.
Amidst the tragedy, Santa Barbara, and the nation as a whole, came together today and every year to honor the people who lost their lives.