The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks will be forever seared in the minds of Americans old enough to remember a sunny Tuesday that turned into our nation's darkest day.
Nearly 3,000 people died when al-Qaida terrorists hijacked four jetliners. Two of them struck the two World Trade Center towers, creating fireballs that weakened the skyscrapers and eventually led to their collapse in a heap of rubble and dust. A third jet struck the Pentagon, damaging part of the nation's defense headquarters.
The fourth jet, believed headed for Washington, D.C., crashed in an abandoned strip mine near Shanksville after the passengers, hearing in phone calls with loved ones what happened in New York and Washington, fought back. United Flight 93 crashed during the brave revolt.
It's important to remember those attacks to maintain our resolve to remain vigilant and to remember that each of us can play a role, just as the heroes of Flight 93 did. That's why it's encouraging to hear that more and more people are coming to the Flight 93 National Memorial. About 200,000 people are expected to visit the site this year.
While construction is not complete, the site is a somber and powerful reminder of the bravery of the 40 passengers and crew.
The items and messages left show how the sacrifices by heroes of Flight 93 continue to inspire Americans. Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak at the memorial this morning.
This year's observances of the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks will be much more low-key than last year, which marked 10 years. That's fine. Americans don't need a lot of pageantry on this day.
As long as we remember and teach our children about that horrible day and resolve to put our fellow Americans above ourselves, just as the passengers and crew of Flight 93 did, we can help keep America safe.
Our enemies remain focused on attacking our great nation. We must remain vigilant and a key part of that is never forgetting the way we felt on that terrible day.