It hardly feels like 20 years since we first learned a jet airliner flew into the World Trade Center. Many citizens watched that scene unfold on live television. It became very clear the first crash was no accident, but a deliberate, premeditated, and orchestrated attack of malice and cowardice upon innocent Americans.
Throughout that day, we saw images of fire, smoke, wreckage, and civilians jumping to their death, having made the decision that dying as the result of falling from a high rise was better than being trapped and burned alive. We saw firefighters, emergency medical personnel and law enforcement officers rush to those burning buildings with the hopes of rescuing as many people as they could, so the decision on the best way to die would not be necessary. Sadly, we also watched as the buildings collapsed, crushing, and killing those same public safety professionals.
It is a day we will never forget. More than that, it is a day that changed the way of life for not only the victims and their families, but for every American citizen. Because very few of us ever thought we could be terrorized in America, it showed a sense of vulnerability that many of us had not ever experienced. We all remember where we were and what we were doing on 09/11/2001. It changed the way we think and the way we go about our daily lives. It caused wars; it caused the president to create the Homeland Security Office, and increase safety and security methods.
Law enforcement agencies across the country were also greatly impacted and changed by this tragic event. On 09/11/2001, hundreds of police and fire departments in New York rushed to the scene of the attacks, where more than 400 police officers and firefighters were killed. I still find myself filled with pride for the military and emergency responders who sprang into action that day.
We have the ability to recognize when organizations and politicians (from all parties) attempt to manipulate and divide us over issues of race, political affiliation, religious ideology, and social status. We have the ability to come together once again and determine what we, as a community and a country, value.
My hope today, Patriots Day, is that in addition to remembering those lives lost 20 years ago, we renew our commitment to one another. We renew our commitment to using our energy to find common ground as opposed to finding differences. We renew our appreciation to be blessed enough to live in the greatest country on earth!
MSheriff Lafayette Woods, Jr.