It’s been 17 years since the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda coordinated four attacks on America, killing 2,996 people, injuring over 6,000 others and causing at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage.
But no matter how much time passes, we will never forget.
We won’t forget the countless individuals who lost their lives in the collapsing twin towers, or those on the ground furiously trying to save themselves and others as destructive debris and ash struck the ground like razor-sharp lightning bolts.
We won’t forget the 343 firefighters and the 72 law enforcement officers who were killed trying to save others in what, for them was the single deadliest incident in the history of our country. We will never forget their bravery, their sacrifice and the true American spirit that was on display as they rushed into harm’s way knowing they might be giving their own lives.
We won’t forget the heroic passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, who rushed the cockpit, preventing the plane from making its Washington, D.C. destination and, instead, crashing it into the ground near Shanksville, Pa. Their sacrifice saved the lives of countless others.
And we won’t forget those at the Pentagon who gave their lives when American Airlines Flight 77 ripped into the Department of Defense facility.
Nor can we forget the thousands of families impacted by those terrorist attacks or even those of us far removed from the immediate aftermath who have forever been changed because of 9/11.
Today, 17 years later, America has changed. Americans have changed. We fight and bicker about the stupidest of things, particularly politics, as if being a Republican or a Democrat were the most important thing one can be.
But we hope, as we settle in to remember the tragedy of 9/11, that we can resurrect not the tragedy but the hope that rose from the ashes, the way our American spirit took over, the way we set aside politics for the greater good and became what we always should be — Americans first and always.
You see, life is fleeting; times are uncertain. We should never waste it fighting over petty things nor should we allow politics to divide a nation which has withstood so much.
Instead we should look to make every moment count, turn back to our faith, serve others, be kind and find ways to get along.
Of all the things 9/11 taught us, it was how Americans can unite, standing elbow to elbow.
We can do that again if we only will, making 9/11 count for good rather than the evil it was intended for.