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I’ve heard many times that most all of us remember where we were when we heard about the terrible events that happened on 9/11, nineteen years ago. It was a particularly tragic day as I was attending the funeral of my cousin’s young son. Since we were in the church, we didn’t know what the priest was referring to when he said “and please pray for those in New York City.” After leaving the service to go to the cemetery, I tried calling my office. I kept getting an “all circuits are busy” recording which I thought was odd. I finally got through and, it wasn’t until my coworker came on the phone, that I learned what was happening. She was clearly shaken and said everyone was watching the news on a TV there. They still didn’t know if the plane that went down in PA was related to the two that hit the World Trade Center or the one at the Pentagon. After hanging up, we turned on the radio and listened to the news while driving to the cemetery. I was shaking by the time we arrived.

If you have not had the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, it is well worth the trip. The horror of what happened that day is so evident but the way the victims are honored is something I won’t forget. Every name is read with a picture and a short narrative about that person’s life. It is difficult to grasp the pain for so many that occurred in a couple of short hours that day. Listening to the stories of those who died, however, makes it very real for everyone listening. I don’t think it’s possible to come out of there without tears being shed for the loss of so many loved ones. Seeing the stairs that people who worked in the WTC, as well as the first responders, ran down while trying to escape, brought goose bumps. The heroes of that day are celebrated as well as mourned. It is one of the most sobering memorials I have ever attended.

As we turn the page on another year, let’s not forget the lessons learned that day as well as the lives that were lost and are still losing. 27 more firefighters passed away last year from WTC illnesses bringing the total to 226. Many volunteers who unselfishly worked there have also fallen ill or died. Even though it was an event that happened so many years ago, our country is still healing. We’ve heard it before but we must #neverforget

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