Today is September 11.
It is the day that many will implore you to “Never Forget” the image-searing attack some religious zealots made on our country, its financial and political strongholds, and the very fiber of its psyche.
But, that occurred 18 years ago today — “Has it really been that long?” many who were adults that day likely ask — meaning nearly an entire generation wasn’t alive long enough to recognize or recall it.
Today’s twenty-somethings were in elementary school — or in diapers — that day. College students currently have no authentic recollection of the day’s events without looking up photos or Youtube videos. Instead, implore them to “Always Remember”.
Remember that terrorists hijacked two commercial airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center, which then had two towers, in a coordinated series of blows that eventually made the twin 110-story towers collapse.
Remember another plane slammed into the Pentagon, bringing the seat of government itself under attack.
Remember a fourth plane was commandeered but never reached its target.
Remember that every other commercial jet in the air was ordered to immediately land, that no other plane could take off, and the American air space remained empty and quiet for two more days.
Remember that about 50,000 people worked at the World Trade Center, and tens of thousands of others visit each day. Thousands also made their way in and out of the Pentagon daily.
Remember the sentiment that resulted. In the aftermath of that day, no police officer stood alone; every one with civilians nearby, talking, touching their arms, thanking them, commiserating for their losses, as city to city, state to state, first responders are a brotherhood. Fire Houses were indistinguishable from florists, flowers pouring out onto sidewalks, and walls decorated with drawings and notes.
Remember how hard it was to purchase an American flag, if you didn’t already own one.
Tradition will take over. The annual reading of those who lost their lives at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, begins at 8:46 a.m., the moment American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower. There will be pauses over the next 100 minutes to mark when United Flight 175 hit the South Tower, American Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, United Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania in an act of heroism by passengers, and when the WTC towers separately collapsed. Memorials will also be held at the Pentagon and in Shanksville.
Also in local tradition, a memorial will be held this evening at Valencia College’s Osceola Campus, with members of first responder units front and center — sober reminders for Central Floridians, like their counterparts in the Northeast and around the country, to never forget … and always remember.