September 11, 2001 – 2,977 innocent human lives were lost and over 6,000 people were injured at the hands of 19 murderers. We pause from our regular posts to honor and to remember – and pledge to never forget.
The attack was on US soil, but the victims were global. The fatalities included 373 people from 58 other countries, not counting the murderers themselves.
The murderers claimed religious goals, but every major religion was represented in the innocent victims, including 31 Muslims, one of whom was seven months pregnant.
This was not a military attack, as only 55 fatalities were military members and 70 additional civilians working at the Pentagon.
The fatalities included 8 children, the youngest only 2 1/2.
In addition to the human lives lost, we remember Sirius, a 4 year old Yellow Lab who served as a bomb detection dog. Hearing the explosions above them, Port Authority Officer David Lim left Sirius in his crate in the basement, saying “I’ll be back for you,” before racing up 43 flights of steps to rescue as many people as he could. He was carrying a woman down the steps when the tower collapsed around him, though he was miraculously rescued alive from the rubble hours later.
Unfortunately, it was not until January 22, 2002 – over four months after the attacks – that the body of Sirius was found. He had been killed instantly when the tower collapsed. Officer Lim was able to be at the site when his partner’s body was removed from the rubble, fulfilling the promise of his last words. The canine officer received the same stirring tribute as others – the machinery was all halted, his body was draped by a flag, men and women stood silently and saluted, and Sirius was escorted from the devastation.
We honor the 343 firefighters and 63 law enforcement officers who gave their lives that fateful day – and the over 2,000 that suffered injuries of some sort.
We honor the 29 passengers plus crew on United 93 who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that no more planes took innocent lives.
We honor the untold number of people who lost their lives helping strangers escape the destruction.
We honor the men, women – and canines – who spent weeks trying to find more survivors. Many of those searchers today suffer from illnesses or have died from working that site.
And we honor all of the servicemen and women of the various nations who have been on the front lines to eradicate the possibility of another such event. And, sadly, we salute those from nations around the world that, even now, are gearing up to defeat a similar foe who has a total disregard for innocent lives.
And we honor all those, somewhere, who took time from their day to help a stranger. Traveling on business myself that fateful day, I watched people offer rides to people who had no way to get home without the airlines. It was a day where we treated each other well and thought nothing of helping a stranger.
We will never forget.