2,996.

The number of people who lost their lives that fateful day sixteen years ago, the day the world stopped spinning. For some, it is a day that will haunt them forever. There is a psychological phenomenon known as “flashbulb” memories. It is characterized as remembering a traumatic event in picture perfect detail, every facet of the moments leading up to and surrounding that event are etched into your memory and tied so strongly to your emotions and sensations that some people can vividly remember tastes and smells from that moment.

I remember exactly where I was when that first plane careened into the North Tower. I was leaving my first-period class and heading to the second period, it was just a normal day, and as usual, the T.V. was on in the upper right-hand corner of the room, but this time what we saw on the screen was horrifying. The footage of the plane violently colliding into the World Trade Center was being replayed again and again and again, and we all just sat there with our books in hand watching helplessly as our nation’s security and well-being was being threatened.

The 9/11 attacks are documented as the deadliest terrorist attack in world history. It is mind-numbing the loss of life and devastation that took place that day, but the stories of heroism that also took place that fateful day will live on forever in the hearts and memories of Americans for generations to come. The haunting voices of the those who gave their life in bravery and heroism aboard Flight 93 as they called loved ones to say goodbye and that they loved them, recited the Lord’s Prayer with complete strangers from every background and walk of life, and devised a plan that inevitably brought them down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania thwarting the terrorists’ plan that could have resulted in devastating loss in our nation’s capital.

As the hot steel trusses began to buckle under the extreme heat and then slowly began to collapse, 343 New York firefighters and emergency personnel gave their lives attempting to rescue the thousands of people trapped inside the towers. These brave men and women selflessly gave up their lives to save as many as they could. They did their duty, and they did it well, they served their country, and we will forever be indebted to their honor and sacrifice.

In honor of all those lost that day, we offer up The Lord’s Prayer:
“Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
Amen.”