Some moments in life we never forget – a wedding day, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one. We’re most likely to always remember events that change our lives. We especially remember the ones that turn our world upside down and become forever deeply rooted in our hearts and minds.
On Sept. 11, 2001, about 3,000 people woke up on a clear, sunny Tuesday morning, and went about their regular morning routines. There were no clues that the final chapter of their lives were about to be written.
That day resonates clearly still and most can pinpoint exactly where they were and what they were doing when it happened. “It” was single largest loss of life from a terrorist attack on American soil, resulting in the tragic deaths of 2,996 innocent people and more than 6,000 sustaining serious injuries.
Three hijacked passenger planes carried out coordinated suicide attacks against the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., while a fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers and crew attempted to regain control from the hijackers.
• 8:45 a.m. an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.
• 9:03 a.m., hijackers crash United Airlines Flight 175 into the WTC’s South Tower.
• 9:37 a.m., hijackers aboard Flight 77 crash the plane into the western façade of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
• 9:59 a.m. – The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses.
• 10:28 a.m. – The World Trade Center’s North Tower collapses, 102 minutes after being struck by Flight 11.
• 5:20 p.m., the 47-story Seven World Trade Center collapses after burning for hours.
In the span of a normal working day, time as we knew it stood still. That night, President Bush addressed the nation, declaring, “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”
Out of the ashes of that day came ‘Never forget’ – a reminder to understand the significance of what happened and find strength in unity. Thousands of first responders and civilians risked their lives to save others. We found in that day that ordinary people can do extraordinary things when needed most. We realized that day that we cannot take anything for granted, especially our God-given rights and freedoms.
Time has marched on since that fateful day, and sometimes it seems we have forgotten what we felt for one another as that day unfolded – something more important than politics, age, race, religion – fundamentals that should bind us together.
Today, as our country remembers and mourns those who lost their lives, may we recapture the spirit that pulled us together on Sept. 11, 2001.