If you are old enough to drink legally, you likely have some memory of the day that changed America forever: Sept. 11, 2001.

It was 16 years ago on Monday that the well-organized minions of Osama bin Laden launched a devastating suicide attack on this country. Four commercial airplanes were hijacked, two of the planes brought down both towers of the World Trade Center in New York, a third wreaked havoc by crashing into the Pentagon and the fourth was thwarted by a brave band of passengers who forced the plane to crash in a field near Shanksville, Pa.

In all, nearly 3,000 were killed and many more were injured in those attacks.

The carnage remains fresh in the minds of most of us who saw it over and over and over on television. No doubt those moments will be relived repeatedly on news broadcasts over the weekend and on Monday.

It was a generational moment. One that stopped you in your tracks. Most of us remember exactly where we were when we learned of it.

It ranks with such events as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, and Neil Armstrong’s moon walk. Moments forever with us.

At the same time, the events of Sept. 11, 2001, were different from anything our nation had encountered. We had been savagely attacked, and we didn’t even know by whom or why. At first, anyway.

That day’s events were clear acts of war not so much against our country, but against our way of life. The problem was that the attacks didn’t come from any recognized state, but rather were the brainchild of bin Laden and a shadowy group of Middle East fanatics calling themselves al-Qaida, who operated under a twisted and violent interpretation of Islam.

As a nation, we were at once stunned, sickened, afraid and heartbroken. But it didn’t take long for that shock and hurt to turn to resolve and, yes, anger. Lots of anger. We were so upset, in fact, that we declared war on a strategic concept — terror — rather than a country.

The advisability of doing so was questionable, as it led us into excruciating entanglements that remain today. But Monday is not about policy choices. It is about remembering the 2,977 innocents and heroic first-responders killed at the hands of 19 terrorists. In the years hence, our nation has accomplished much.

It has rebuilt on the site of the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon has been repaired and our military has killed bin Laden.

This day is marked in many different ways in many different parts of the country. 

We have certainly not forgotten. Not at all. So the nation stops again to remember and grieve for those victims and their families.

May they rest in peace.

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