Twenty years. It doesn’t seem possible, does it?
Twenty years since that horrible day when the twin towers of the World Trade Center fell, an aircraft struck the Pentagon, and another went down in a Pennsylvania field. The day nearly 3,000 people lost their lives.
One could say as a nation, we lost our innocence that day. Until 9/11, terrorism was mostly a foreign concept. It didn’t happen here.
Until it did.
And we suddenly realized that that world was a much smaller place than we imagined.
So much has happened in the intervening years. It’s safe to say we are a different country, different people than we were on September 10, 2001. Whether that’s for better or for worse is open to debate, and it’s not our place to discuss it here.
What we will do however, is recognize and commemorate the bravery and heroism so many people showed that day. As panicked workers rushed out of the Trade Center. New York City police and firefighters rushed in. More than 400 of them, firefighters, police, EMTs and paramedics, never came out.
For FDNY members, the carnage was just the beginning. A total of 343 firefighters died when the towers collapsed. Dozens more have suffered fatal diseases over the past two decades caused by inhaling the toxic dust from the rescue and cleanup efforts.
And of course, we cannot forget the heroes of American Airlines Flight 93. They heard the news of the other hijacking and attacks, and determined not to let their aircraft be used as a weapon of mass destruction.
They fought back, knowing they would die, forcing the plane to crash in a Pennsylvania field rather than successfully reach its unknown target, believed to be either the White House or the Capitol. We can never know how many lives those brave 40 people saved by their actions.
Now it’s been 20 years. But we must never – never – forget those who died that day, and the heroes who gave their all for their fellow man. May God bless the loved ones of all who lost their lives. May those who sacrificed be honored and never forgotten.