It was early morning in the Northwest on Sept. 11, 2001. Most Americans will never forget where they were when they heard the horrific news that Al-Qaida terrorists aboard three hijacked passenger planes carried out coordinated suicide attacks against the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., killing everyone on board the planes and nearly 3,000 people on the ground. A fourth plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field, killing all on board after passengers and crew attempted to wrestle control from the hijackers.
On Monday, this Sept. 11, the members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 9106 in Forks, are asking everyone to stop wherever they are and join them in a moment of silence at 9:37 a.m. to remember and reflect on a day that began just like any other.
The morning sun dawned bright over the New York City skyline and Americans woke to begin their morning routine. No one could have expected by the end of the day, 2,977 Americans would tragically lose their lives in an attack which would forever change America. Though the events of September 11 shocked our nation to its core, it quickly became clear the group of radical extremists had misjudged the strength of purpose and determination of people of the United States.
VFW Post Commander Tom Hughes remembers, “I was, at the time, stationed in Kuwait and had a few friends over for cards that night to relieve the tensions of being in a war zone, when we saw the attack via BBC on television. We all stared in total disbelief!” Now, more than a decade later, thousands of our nation’s finest continue to pay the ultimate price for our freedom. Thousands more have returned home bearing the physical and mental scars of battle.
Out of the twisted steel and rubble, out of the clouds of smoke and dust and out of the charred field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, a new sense of patriotism was reborn. The terrorist attacks 16 years ago did not weaken us or dampen our spirit. Instead of being defeated, Americans and freedom-loving people from all over the world united … and together, in a time of disbelief, chaos and great loss, we boldly stood together as a nation, one nation under God, and refused to succumb to fear or despair. It truly became one of our finest hours.
Though there is no doubt the memory of the innocent lives taken as a result of the September 11 attacks will remain etched in our minds, the heroic acts displayed by firefighters, police officers, emergency personnel and the average American citizen alike … moments of valor, courage and selflessness … reminded all of us, and the rest of the world, of the ever-present American values that have carried our nation so admirably from century to century.
This tragedy served to remind the world of everything America stands for, that America will always stand tall and strong against violence and evil, and that we will fight for the freedom to live our lives free from tyranny and fear. We stood tall to safeguard the American dream, the very way of life so many before us have fought and died to protect, and what so many of our new generation of service members continue to selflessly put their lives on the line to defend today. From the outside in, many will never understand our way of life … they will never comprehend, nor will they accept the basic premises upon which our great nation was built; independence, justice and sovereignty.
The events of 9/11 vividly demonstrated that freedom is never free. We must continue to act to ensure forces of ignorance and hatred never prevail and we must always endeavor to put forth every effort and be willing to sacrifice in order to ensure our way of life prevails for future generations. While this day is now remembered as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance, please remember the events that led to this day. Posters, bumper stickers and flags showed a country united with a promise, “We Will Not Forget!” The Veterans of Foreign Wars will not forget.