There comes a point that every event, no matter how tragic or how deeply it affects a nation, becomes consigned to history.
What is important is that it never be forgotten.
Fifteen years ago this past Sunday, the world watched in horror as a series of coordinated attacks by Islamic terrorists changed our lives forever.
Early that morning of Sept. 11, 2001, 19 hijackers took control of four commercial jets. At 8:46 that morning, the first of those airlines — a Boeing 767 traveling as American Airlines Flight 11 — was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York.
As Americans reeled from what at first seemed like an unintentional disaster, a second Boeing 767 — United Airlines Flight 175 — was flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center 17 minutes later.
It became clear America was under attack on its own soil. More assaults continued; American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. and United Airlines Flight 93 — which some accounts believe was destined for the Capitol or for the White House — crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 10:03, the hijackers foiled by passengers who were made aware of what was unfolding and bravely acted to prevent further carnage.
About the same time, the structural damage caused by the crashes caused the first of the World Trade Center towers to collapse. The second one would fall 29 minutes later.
Through tear-filled eyes, people across the world watched the non-stop reports of 2,996 lives lost and more than 6,000 injured. Family members of those who were in the World Trade Center that day would gather by the hundreds as they desperately waited — some days — for news about their loved ones.
Although the attacks were designed to inflict damage and fear on America, those who died in the deadliest terrorism attack in history would represent more than 90 countries.
There was an outpouring of emotion and solidarity across the globe.
As time went on, so did the world. Life and normalcy resumed, and the images that haunted generations became less and less frequent. Consider that now, most high school freshmen’s recollections of that deadly day are from parents, friends and historical accounts.
What children must know is that the world today can be a violent place. There are maniacal factions of individuals whose wrong-minded thinking convinces them the way to shake the foundation of a nation is through inflicting death and injury on its people.
But that foundation is too resolute to be shaken for long.
Not here, not in Belgium, not in France or any of the dozens of other places that have fallen victim to extremists’ cowardice in the years since Sept. 11, 2001.
The lessons America learned that day, and the lessons the world has learned over and over since then, cannot be lost. We cannot, should not, allow those feelings experienced on Sept. 11 and in the days and months that followed to be erased.
We rose, and will continue to rise.
And we will not forget.