On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, four American aircrafts, under the control of 19 Al-Qaeda hijackers, careened down from the skies over lower Manhattan; Arlington, Virginia; and Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania before smashing down in four jet-fueled balls of flame, while spectators from the farthest reaches of the nation stared on helpless and aghast at their television sets as the world unraveled around them.
By evening, three smoldering mounds of twisted concrete and steel lay strewn across the American landscape, among which lay the remains of 2,977 victims. It was a tragedy that left a deep and indelible mark on a newly wakened century, driving us irrevocably forward into a new age of terror and technology.
Eighteen years later, the dust of that moment in time continues to settle around us in ever-thinning layers. Time ticks forward, the moment recedes into the past, and a slow but persistently-widening gap forces us further and further away as we continue on with our lives.
And yet, we still remember.
We remember, not merely because the reports of the two jet-liners striking the north and south towers of the World Trade Center that morning tore us loose from the casual haze and routine of our daily lives — replaced by confusion and panic — as the seeming unreality of the day took grip of the nation.
We remember, not merely because the sight of the televised jet planes careening through the sky and crashing through each of the iconic towers in violent bursts of fire and glass are seared onto our collective consciousness.
We remember, not merely because the selflessness of the hundreds of first responders that rushed into the chaos and darkness of the burning buildings as all around them bloodied, dazed, and screaming survivors spilled out into the streets is stamped on our hearts, filling us with belief, hope and reverence.
We remember, not merely because of the horror we felt in our guts as each 110-story colossus collapsed into a heap of blackened debris, swallowing entire blocks of Manhattan, sunk our stomachs to new depths of despair and cast a shadow over the days and years to come.
We remember, not merely because of the thousands of volunteers from around the nation and beyond that flocked to ‘The Pile’ to sift and clear the ruins, eventually restoring beauty and grandeur from the amongst the ashes and helping lift our spirits up from the wreckage of this great wound.
We remember, not merely because we owe it to each and every person who lost their lives and to all those who lost a loved one, a family member and a friend because of the horrific events which took place 18 years ago today,
In the end, we remember because it is impossible to forget.