It’s one of those generational questions.
“Where were you when the towers were hit?”
It’s up there with asking somebody to remember what they were doing when Pearl Harbor was attacked, John F. Kennedy was assassinated or man walked on the moon. It’s a question with no wrong or right answer, and often makes the most gregarious of personalities turn somber.
Wednesday marked the 12th anniversary of the day 19 men hijacked four planes and ultimately cost 2,997 lives in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa. Consider the following numbers, compiled by cnn.com:
• At the World Trade Center site in Manhattan, 2,753 people died. Of those who perished, 343 were New York City firefighters, 23 were New York City police officers and 37 were Port Authority officers. Victims ranged in age from 2 to 85;
• At the Pentagon, 184 people were killed when a hijacked plane crashed into the building;
• Neark Shanksville, 40 passengers and crew members were killed when that plane crashed into a field. It is believed this happened when passengers and crew attempted to retake control of the flight deck and prevent the terrorists from striking another high-profile target.
Those are sobering numbers, and it especially hits home when one considers all the family members, friends and loved ones who were directly affected by individuals killed in those attacks, as well as millions of others who had their sense of safety wiped away on one seemingly-random Tuesday morning.
It is a day we remember collectively every year as the calendar turns, but also one that is remembered every day by those who survived those attacks or lost a loved one. It has seen us send our young men and women to Afghanistan in search of those responsible, and seen many of them give their lives in the process of keeping the rest of us safe.
The aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks featured our political leaders on both sides of that cantakerous aisle join together to try to bring our country back together, and we have all watched as they sadly drifted further apart. We have seen tightening of security at airports and our banking system to provide us another layer of security, but have also seen some of our civil liberties be trampled in the process.
Yes, the world has changed since Sept. 11, 2001, particularly in regards to our nation and the people who live here. We honor all who have fallen, either that dreadful day or in foreign lands looking for those responsible. Never forget.