We must never forget that awful day in 2001

It's been 18 years since America was attacked on September 11, 2001. It was a day that changed more than just our country. It changed the world.

Those who were alive that day and understood the significance of what was happening will never forget how they reacted to the searing images of three passenger jetliners crashing into buildings in New York City and Washington D.C., and a fourth plunging into a farm field in western Pennsylvania. An enemy of America known as al-Qaeda, half a world away, had plotted the evil attacks as a way to avenge what it viewed as the U.S. government's transgressions against Muslims in Middle Eastern countries.

While much time has passed, it still seems like yesterday.

America took the fight to al-Qaeda in the aftermath of 9/11, invading Afghanistan a few months later and overthrowing the Taliban, which ruled the country at that time. The Taliban's leaders had harbored al-Qaeda and allowed its fighters to train and plan various terrorist attacks, including those against the U.S.

Al-Qaeda was essentially destroyed by U.S. forces in subsequent years, although our military is still present in Afghanistan. The Islamist terrorist group's first leader and founder, Osama bin Laden, was killed at his hideout in Pakistan by a special forces team in 2011 after eluding the U.S. for almost 10 years.

On this somber day, it is fitting that Americans pause and remember those who died and were injured in the terrorist attacks. Many innocent people perished in the air and on the ground, including first responders, firefighters and law enforcement officials.

Let us also remember the military personnel who served and are still serving. Let's especially remember those who lost their lives since 9/11 in service to our country.

They all fought, and continue to fight, to make America safe. We salute them.

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