Never forget! These were the words Americans spoke in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. How could any of us who were alive that day forget? I’m confident that most adult Americans – those of a certain age, anyway – hold powerful memories and emotions that were seared into their conscience on Sept. 11, 2001.
America will soon observe the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It will be a difficult day, as the painful memories come rushing in. By final count, 2,977 innocent people lost their lives on that fateful day. Among those were 344 firefighters and 71 law enforcement officers who rushed to the World Trade Center to try to save lives. At least 6,000 people were injured, and countless more suffered long-term health effects from exposure to dust and other environmental impacts from the attacks.
I suspect most of us can recall exactly where we were when we heard the news, and we remember how we spent the day as if it were yesterday. We watched in horror as news coverage showed one 110-floor skyscraper crumble to the earth, and then another. Some of us rushed to collect our children and hold them tight. Not since Pearl Harbor had America known a direct attack on our shores. Uncertainty and fear gripped the nation as we waited to see what would come next. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in world history and has shaped our nation’s history and culture ever since.
On Sept. 11, we will honor the memory of those who lost their lives. I hope we’ll also remember their families and pray for their comfort as a nation relives this terrible tragedy. We should also give thanks for America’s first responders. The sacrifices made by brave firefighters, police officers, and other emergency personnel on that day can never be repaid. We also honor all those who continue to rush in when others flee. They are our heroes.
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