Column: The attacks that changed our country

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Commentary by Rick Baum, USMC Veteran Post 79 service officer and chaplain

September 11, 2001 changed the United States. Americans were shocked when our country was attacked by terrorists on our own soil. Television stations aired horrific footage of planes exploding into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. Military fighter jets were patrolling over our nation’s capital. Our Armed Forces were placed on high alert. The nation was facing fear and uncertainty.

We remember the sacrificial heroism of the first responders, the rubble at Ground Zero, rescue dogs searching for survivors, mortician teams collecting the remains of the victims, funerals honoring the 2,997 dead, bag pipers playing “Amazing Grace” and the sorrowful tears shed by those left behind.

In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush proclaimed a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the victims of the attacks.

The House of Representatives and Senate passed a joint resolution declaring Sept. 11 as Patriot Day. On this day, Americans are encouraged to fly the nation’s flag at half-mast. Patriot Day reminds us that America must remain vigilant to stand against the many enemies of freedom. We must not forget the lives that were lost and the unfolding War on Terror that deploys our Guardians of Freedom to defend liberty.

The soul of America was violated by those terrorist attacks, and yet citizens rose with strength to the occasion. Patriots were going to military recruiters’ offices enlisting to serve the country. A growing number of homes and businesses proudly displayed the U.S. flag as an expression of love for country and freedom. Respect and support for our Armed Forces has surged to a record-high as they deploy to dangerous missions in Iraq, Africa, Afghanistan and other parts of the globe to maintain peace and eradicate terrorism.

America has changed since Sept. 11, 2001. The freedoms once enjoyed are not the same. The Homeland Security Act was ushered in a year later. Government surveillance and collection of information has become necessary for security.

This Patriot Day, remember the people who lost their lives. Remember their surviving families who are haunted each anniversary of the day that forever changed their lives. Be grateful for your freedom and those who preserve it.

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