9/11: Remembering the sacrifices, honoring the heroes
September 11, 2001. It’s a date that has defined a generation—a date when America suffered an unprecedented incursion on her own soil by foreign enemies. On that terrible day, 19 Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked passenger jets to conduct four coordinated attacks: two on New York’s World Trade Center; one on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.; and one on a jet (also aimed at the Pentagon) that subsequently was crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania by American passengers who heroically chose to die rather than be used as pawns in an act of war against their nation. In all, nearly 3,000 people were killed and more than 6,000 suffered injuries ranging from the minor to the horrific. It was, to echo the words used by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt to describe a similar unprovoked attack that rocked Americans of a previous generation, “A date which will live in infamy.”
That terrible day changed the world, in ways large and small. It helped create a new world order that is more global, yet in some ways less free. Its effects continue to be felt, and to haunt the imaginations of many.
As it recedes into history, it seems more vital than ever to remember 9/11: to honor the sacrifices of slain heroes and their loved ones; to acknowledge the suffering of the injured and the bereavement of the survivors; to recall the sorrow of a nation. To its credit, America continues to remember, even after 16 years.
Have 9/11 and its aftermath made us better? Only time will tell. One thing is certain, however: they have engendered in us a commitment to honor the heroes among us, to never take them for granted—and to never, ever forget.