An anniversary is something we often celebrate but in the case of today’s date it’s one we commemorate.

September 11th is the anniversary of the most horrific date in the history of our country and for many the pain is almost as great as it was 17 years ago when nearly 3,000 lives were lost following the hijacking of four commercial airplanes whose mission was to deliver death and destruction.

Most of us remember where we were when we first heard a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. Of course we thought it was just a terrible accident but would quickly learn it was part of a choreographed terrorist plot aimed at taking innocent lives.

That day and night we were glued to the TV and wondering if other attacks would follow and at the same time looking at scenes we really could not imagine. It was our worst nightmare come true and directly or indirectly impacted just about all of us. If you didn’t know someone who lost their life that day you likely knew someone who knew someone among the 2,753 who died at the World Trade Center.

In addition 184 people died when a hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon and another 40 lost their life when another hijacked plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Sixty years after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor this was for another generation “a day that would live in infamy.”

Of course as is often the case with Americans we’re at our best in the worst of times and we rallied. Patriotism and pulling together was up, selfishness was down. However it’s now 17 years later and as is the case with many things we have moved on but the loss of life was not just limited to a single September day.Thousands of first responders, volunteers and others have died from 9/11 illnesses when an estimated 400 tons of asbestos was released into the air after the Twin Towers came down.

It’s believed that more than 2,000 people have died of a 9/11-related illness and that number continues to grow. The true impact will live on for decades.

September 11, 2001 started as a pristine late summer morning and quickly became an unimagined tragedy. We vowed then never to forget so we owe it to those lost to at least pause and reflect at some point today and pray it never happens again.