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Let us never forget the tragedy that was 9/11

Today marks the 20th anniversary of one of the most horrific days in the history of the United States.

If you need to be told exactly what significant, nation-altering event we are observing then, well, you are not much of an American.

Mass tributes and memoriams will mark today — two decades since the acts of terrorisms across our skies with planes plunging to earth and creating mass casualties. We remember the tragedies of that day. We remember the sacrifices and acts of heroism.

Local tributes have and will be paid throughout our region. There will be a recognition this morning in Wellsville at the site of a memorial honoring Cathy Salter. She died in the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City. Her story appears on page 1 of our county newspapers this morning.

The Beloit Fire Association is holding an honorary parade followed by activities including a solemn playing of the bagpipes. This all begin today at 10 a.m. The parade featuring firefighters from across our area will begin at West Branch High School and conclude with goings-on at the community park.

But let’s not wait until the 25th anniversary of 9/11 to fully recognize its searing impact into our nation’s consciousness. You know, a nice round number of five-year anniversary increments instead of, say, 21st, 22nd, 23rd or 24th.

The most elderly among us certainly remember where they were when learning about the Pearl Harbor bombings nearly 80 years ago. Many of us of a certain age vividly remember that terrible November afternoon in Dallas nearly 58 years ago. What happened on Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania continues to resound and will forever echo throughout time. It is seared into our nation’s very soul.

Nearly 3,000 men, women and children died in New York City, Washington, D.C., and rural Pennsylvania. Among them were more than 400 firefighters, paramedics and police officers. Hundreds of U.S. service members died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Think of the families left to intolerably suffer. Think of the mothers and fathers who lost children. Think of the children who lost fathers and mothers.

Today, then, is a day to remind ourselves of the horrors of 9/11 and the heavy price paid to keep us safe. The ongoing vigilance against the terrorist threat, the constant state of being on guard against evil must not waver. The feeling is we now have to be even more vigilant since our pullout from Afghanistan.

The bad people are coming for us. Post 9-11 America is a percolating environment. People want to hurt and kill Americans. It can happen anywhere. Think about the debt we can never repay to all those who defend us, both at home and abroad. Sept. 11 each year needs to be a date that lives in infamy and on which we rededicate ourselves to overcoming a vicious, implacable foe.

We appreciate the thoughtfulness of those community groups and organizations holding 9/11 tributes. Please involve our children. Let us hope others throughout our communities and schools are holding or held their own tributes too.

We hope memories of the 9/11 tragedies do not get lost in history — or worse, not even taught or explained to our children in the classrooms. What happened that fateful Tuesday morning two decades must not fade away like the smoke that hovered over New York City, the Pentagon and a small patch of Pennsylvania countryside not all that far away from us. We should all pause and reflect today. And, perhaps, say a prayer.

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