THE ISSUE: Remembering the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

OUR OPINION: We must keep these memories alive.

“On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 terrorists who were members of al-Qaeda, an Islamist extremist network, hijacked four commercial airplanes. In a coordinated attack, the hijackers intentionally flew two of the planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, and a third into the Pentagon.

“Learning about the other hijackings, passengers and crew members on the fourth plane launched a counterattack, spurring the hijacker pilot to crash the plane into a field in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people were killed on that day, the single largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil.” (From the September 11 Attack Timeline, the 9/11 Memorial.org)

It is a terrible thing to live through the horror of such events as those of Sept. 11, 2001. It is a terrible thing to be bound to live with the memories of such a day, as do the survivors and surviving loved ones of those who perished or were injured.

But it is also a terrible thing when just enough time passes that people can start forgetting, or at least remembering less often. And it is a terrible thing if children are not taught about such events, so that they may remember as well.

Horrifying events happen every day — if not here, at least somewhere around the world. On what became known as 9/11, a feeling of safety and complacency shared by many U.S. citizens was shattered beyond repair in the course of a few hours. From the time American Airlines Flight 11 hit New York City’s World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. until the hours after Flight 93 crashed at 10:30 a.m. near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Americans were compelled to realize horrifying events can happen here too.

Right here at home: in NYC, in Washington and in Pennsylvania on that day.

Unbelievably, U.S. airspace was closed at 12:16 p.m. In the meantime, New York City’s first responders were thrust into unimaginable chaos as they valiantly swarmed on scene to fight fires and collapsing structures, rescue and recover victims and maintain some semblance of order to save thousands who could have perished. And “ordinary” people became first responders, too, as they reacted to help others.

Military and civilian personnel and some more ordinary people scrambled to a similar mission at the Pentagon. And first responders in Somerset County faced what ended up being a heartbreaking task of cleanup after all passengers and crew on Flight 93 were killed.

We certainly learned that day that heroes can be raised and trained and fashioned. Or they can be forged in an instant.

The day of unprecedented pandemonium in modern-day America has since become known as Patriot Day. This day, Sept. 11, is a day to not forget — we must think back and discuss events with each other and our young people so they will remember.

We must never forget the horror, shock and sadness of 9/11, but we also must remember all those heroes, many of whom are still with us today.

To that end, Inverness will have a 9/11 Freedom Walk and exhibit of artifacts at the Valerie Theatre downtown. The walk begins at 5:30 p.m. today in front of the Valerie for all who want to participate. The display is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The remembrance events are sponsored each year by the city of Inverness, Operation Welcome Home and NARLEO — the National Association of Retired Law Enforcement Officers.

Everyone is welcome to come and pay their respects, reflect and discuss the events of 9/11. We can’t let these memories become dusty with time.

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