Sept. 11, 2001.
Ask just about anyone who was old enough on that day and they can tell you exactly where they were when they learned that planes had crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Ask a firefighter, police officer or other first responder where they were and, if they were close to New York, the Pentagon, or Shanksville, Pennsylvania, they were either running toward the carnage or offering to help in any way.
Our military personnel responded in the days, weeks, months and now years since, and thousands have sacrificed their lives to protect our freedom. Ask those who joined immediately after the U.S. was attacked; many were inspired to serve and protect our country and the freedom it stands for.
We lost members of our community. Alan P. Linton Jr. and Michael Carlo, both of whom were in the World Trade Center on the day of the attacks and had family in Frederick, were among the dead. Lt. Cmdr. Ronald Vauk and Chief Warrant Officer Bill Ruth, both of Mount Airy, were killed in the attack at the Pentagon.
Our nation saw evil that day. But we also saw sacrifice, compassion and patriotism.
We also saw unity. We saw a country that put aside political and other differences to grieve together and work as one to rebuild.
Today, we will pause across the country to remember those who died, those who sacrificed. Here in Frederick, officials will lead a Patriot Day ceremony at 8:30 a.m. in the City Hall boardroom at 101 N. Court St. A similar event is planned for Mount Airy in the evening.
Eighteen years later, we have a generation that does not remember that day. They have grown up in a post-9/11 world where they’ve learned about the attacks and still see many of the security repercussions at places such as airports and ballgames.
“It’s the world we live in, unfortunately,” Fort Detrick Fire Chief Scott Custer told us last year. “Before 9/11 happened, no one thought this would happen in our own backyard.”
So as we go on with our daily lives, thank those who ran toward the devastation that day and continue to put their lives on the line.
We must never forget. We can’t let that happen.