Nine years ago, our country was changed forever. On a sunny September day, we were hit by a series of coordinated Al Qaeda attacks, killing almost 3,000 innocent Americans in cold blood. Much of that day will always be remembered with feelings of horror, shock, fear, and sadness. 19 terrorists hijacked four planes. The World Trade Center in New York City was first hit. The twin towers were followed by the Pentagon in Washington, DC. The fourth plane was allegedly intended to hit the White House, but passengers fought the hijackers and crashed the plane into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The World Trade Center got the worst of the attacks, with the twin towers ultimately collapsing and destroying many other buildings in the area.
Across the country, we watched in horror as the towers collapsed. We cried as we saw people leap from the towers to their deaths in a desperate attempt to escape the flames. We listened in shock to the phone calls of the passengers on board the hijacked planes, and wept as we heard them tell their families they loved them one last time. So much of that day will always be a mix of grief, sorrow, fear, and anger.
However, there were also feelings of pride and unity that arose from the flames. We read the heroic stories and watched with pride as ordinary citizens went above and beyond the call of duty to help their fellow Americans. As horrible as 9-11 was, it reminded many of us of what makes this country so great.
This year, I wanted to spotlight just a few of the incredible heroes of that fateful day. Some of them were police officers and firefighters; others were ordinary Americans just like you and me. All of them gave their lives that day; all of them deserve to be remembered.