U.S. flags are to fly at half-staff today from sunrise until sunset.

On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked four airplanes bound for the West Coast of the United States and carried out the deadliest terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil in a mission orchestrated by al-Quaida leader Osama bin Laden.

“Where were you when you first heard about the 9/11 attacks?” became the historic question of a lifetime for a new generation of Americans, just as “Where were you when you heard about JFK being shot?” was for an earlier one.

Sept. 11 is now commemorated as Patriot Day, which is alternately known as National Day of Service and Remembrance, and U.S. and state flags fly at half-staff from sunrise to sunset.

Today we remember the 2,977 people who died as a result of the attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the crash of United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa., as well as those who lost their lives later because of their exposure to the toxic environment of the crash scenes and other damage they suffered that did not kill them immediately.

We also think about the loved ones of the thousands of people who died on 9/11 because we know their pain endures. It is the fate of all survivors that no matter how or when their loss occurs, there will always be some pain, if the love was genuine. 

Today we recall the devastating events of 19 years ago because in divisive times, like those in which we are living now, we believe that the observance of a national day of remembrance is unifying. It reminds us of what we have in common and share. We are all joined as a people in our feelings of loss, our desire for remembrance, and our belief in hope. We all want things to be better.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 9/11/20

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