Today marks the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, a day in history we can never afford to forget.
Sept. 11, 2001, was by all accounts a brilliantly sunny day in New York City. Views from the World Trade Center towers were phenomenal. And then terrorists rammed two commercial airlines into the buildings. The nation stopped.
Shortly afterward, another hijacked plane slammed into the ground near Shanksville, Pa, killing all onboard. The chaos and horror were unprecedented. Hijackers aboard Flight 77 crashed the plane into the western façade of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., killing everyone aboard the plane and many military and civilian personnel inside the building. What had been a beautiful fall morning became an absolute horror.
An entire generation of young people has no memory of that morning. They have only books, film and audio to try and understand what 9/11 was. They might not even understand that the impact of the day changed all of our lives forever. You only have to board a plane or cross one of our borders to realize that America will never be the same.
The biggest loss was the loss of irreplaceable human life, and the toll keeps climbing. In June, we saw the devastation of the firefighter Ray Pfeifer, who accompanied comedian Jon Stewart to a congressional hearing on 9/11 legislation. Pfeifer, a first responder on 9/11, was fighting stage 4 cancer. He appeared to be clinging to life and died shortly after.
The many stories of lives brought to abrupt endings remind us the life is random and precious. The young woman who was planning her wedding, the father whose mind was on his daughter’s birthday party and the middle-aged woman who sat at her desk daydreaming about a planned vacation. These lives never fulfilled should give us all pause.
So today, take time to remember. Let’s commit ourselves to never forget.