There are many numbers to remember on Friday, the most solemn of days in America for nearly a decade and a half, but there is only one you really need to heed.
Two thousand, nine hundred and seventy-seven.
That’s the official number of people, according to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, who died 14 years ago Friday when terrorists rammed passenger jets into the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and the lone plane that crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa. That plane was reportedly headed toward the White House or the Capitol.
Each year since, we’ve marked 9/11 as a reminder that freedom isn’t free. We paid a horribly high price in human lives on Sept. 11, 2001, and we continue to pay the toll as we battle terrorism abroad and at home.
If you’ve forgotten how you felt that day, you need to look no further than the television. Cable and satellite channels usually devote an entire week to the events of 9/11. Each time we watch it, the sadness of knowing how many lives were senselessly wasted always returns. It is soon replaced by anger and a steadfast resolve to never let it happen again.
We should remember all the victims — the jet passengers who were innocent bystanders in a plan too grand to comprehend; the police, firefighters and emergency personnel who risked their lives to climb into a towering inferno to rescue trapped workers at the WTC and paid for it with their lives; the victims inside the towers and on the ground; and those inside the Pentagon.
All those who lost their lives will be remembered during thousands of ceremonies across the country, including local ceremonies in the Ohio Valley.
We took one heck of a punch to the face that day, and many things in our everyday lives have changed since then. But one thing remains the same — our resolve to bounce back stronger than ever.
Never forget Sept. 11, 2001.
— Michael Johnson