It was a day that changed us forever, and one we must never forget.
For many of us, that is simple. We can recall with vivid clarity where we were and what we were doing as news of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon reached us that dark September morning, now 18 years ago.
It was the deadliest-ever attack on American soil. Coordinated terrorist strikes killed nearly 3,000 people and injured more than 6,000. The smoking collapse of the trade center’s twin towers — like images from the aerial attacks on the U.S. base at Pearl Harbor decades before — left an indelible image, one that will be forever etched on our nation’s soul.
Even today, 18 years later, the day known simply as 9/11 remains frozen in the minds of all who lived through it.
And it must.
But it is difficult to realize that sitting in high schools across East Texas right now are teenagers poised to graduate next spring who will be among the first high-school graduates born after the 9/11 attacks.
While we watched in horror as the deadly events of that day unfolded live on television and in news reports for weeks after, these students and those who follow learn about it as something not lived but merely recounted. It will never be quite as real to them as it is to us.
In continuing our fight in the global war on terrorism ignited by 9/11, we also must not forget how this horrific event brought Americans together, despite our differences. We must realize that if we can stand stronger together in the face of that tragedy, we can stand stronger together facing our many challenges today, and those to come.
Yes, remembering the heavy losses of that day continues to be paramount for all Americans. But just as important is remembering what we gained.
In the days after the attacks, Americans rushed out to buy flags, and this nation was festooned with Old Glory from sea to shining sea. We reached out to friends and strangers alike in a desire for American unity. Our political differences fell aside as we sought comfort and strength as one nation under God, indivisible.
That spirit, of putting aside our petty differences for the greater good of our nation and the world, is one we long to see again. If we can see it even one day each year, then perhaps it can spread to another day, and another. Today, that is among our prayers.
So today, as we promise never to forget what happened on that dark September day, we promise also to remember the unity of spirit and purpose that followed, and to work toward recreating that spirit every day for the good of our nation and our world.
Flags at half-staff
The U.S. and Texas flags at the News-Journal are at half-staff today in recognition of Patriot Day.
Please join us on this 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks as we remember those who lost their lives on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 in attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in suburban Pennsylvania.