9/11 Memorial

This Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks — often referred to as simply 9/11 — a series of four coordinated attacks on America by the militant Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda.

Two hijacked commercial airliners were flown into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Nearly 3,000 people were killed when the towers collapsed, and thousands more were injured. A third plane was flown into the west side of the Pentagon in Arlington County, Va. Terrorists aboard a fourth hijacked plane were en route to Washington, D.C. with the intention of flying into either the U.S. Capitol or the White House, but passengers aboard that aircraft fought back and were able to divert the plane from it’s intended target — it crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.

Those of us who watched the news unfold on that horrific day 20 years ago will never forget it. And many of us believed that life in the United States would never be the same again.

But we are a resilient people, and the events of 9/11 did not drastically change the way we live our everyday lives. We were able to move on, although that day left an indelible mark on Americans and brought much closer to home that which had previously been nothing but a distant threat.

As we mark the 20th anniversary of those attacks, it’s important that we never forget the people who were lost to us that day, and in particular, the emergency responders who died while coming to the aid of others. We are truly blessed to live in a culture where so many people are willing to put others first, even in a case like this where it cost them their very lives.

Perhaps that is one of the biggest lessons we can learn from 9/11. Yes, we need to remain ever vigilant against the possibility of future terrorist threats, but the true American spirit was on full display during those attacks two decades ago. So many people put the needs of others before their own self-interests. That is something we could perhaps use a little more of in the present day, with the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters and an often-turbulent political scene.

And speaking of natural disasters, this week marked the one-year anniversary of the start of the Echo Mountain Complex fire, which destroyed hundreds of homes in north Lincoln County and affected so many people’s lives. Fortunately there were no deaths from this local wildfire, but for many of the victims, the rebuilding process is still far from over.

With this wildfire response, too, we have witnessed the selflessness of many people who came to the aid of others. And that attitude continues. It truly gives us hope during those times when we can tend to become overwhelmed by our circumstances. As has often been said, “Together, we are stronger.” We believe this, and we also believe that is the essence of what makes America the great country it is.

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