On Friday, Sept. 11, America will pause to remember the attacks carried out on New York, Washington, D.C., and the aircraft forced down in Shanksville, Pa., by extraordinarily brave passengers.

But do we really remember the horrors, confusion, death, injuries and distraction  of that faithful day?

Remember that:

  • 2,996 innocent people lost their lives that day. Lives taken by 19 terrorists from a group most Americans had not heard of known as Al Qaeda.
  • 265 of those that died were aboard aircraft hijacked by those 19 terrorists.  Four routine commercial flights aboard commercial airliners were turned into instruments of terror and war.
  • 6,000 more victims were injured during attacks carried out by those 19 terrorists that day. Those 6,000 suffered numerous injuries, lost limbs, suffered crash-related injuries, burns, and all matter of other injuries. They were fortunate to have survived. They will never forget the horrors of that day and with each year that passes, 9-11 reminds them of the horrors they suffered and the blessings of still being alive.

Monuments at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Shanksville have been erected and Americans will pause to remember 9-11-2001.

During the 17 years that have passed, our nation and some of our allies have waged war against those terrorists. Many American Armed Forces members have given their lives in an effort to make America and the world safe from terrorism. Many more have been wounded in action and others suffer from stress-related illnesses as a result of combat service.

Some say that these attacks were preventable; others say that the U. S. Commission on National Security, established in 1998, and its report published in January 2001 were ignored by our nation’s leaders. International threats to our country were identified in that detailed report and a long list of recommendations made.

Immediately following the attacks the nation rallied and our leaders in Congress stood shoulder to shoulder on the steps of the nation’s Capitol. Our president rallied the nation and the world. We were united in a way few of us will ever forget.

Here in the Coachella Valley residents rallied, too. Celebrities like Barry Manilow, joined by former President Gerald R. Ford, helped the local United Way raise more than $1 million dollars for the 9-11 relief fund in New York City. It was a remarkable achievement made possible by the generosity of the Coachella Valley residents and and business owners.

As we pause to reflect upon the tragic events of 9-11 , the lives that were cut short, those with scars of injuries sustained that day, let’s remember we must remain united as Americans and never forget the sacrifices of those 2,996 we lost that day. Let’s also remember our nation’s military that still wages America’s longest war.

Editors note: Tom Freeman is a regular contributor to Uken Report. Following the release of the Hart-Rudman Report in 2000, Freeman was appointed to the National Guard’s Strategic Planning Council by Maj. Gen. Paul Monroe. Its mission  was to address the National Guard’s role in Homeland Defense.