September 11th, 2001, is one day in American history ingrained into our collective consciousness. Each year, we pause, reflect, and remember all those who were lost. We think of the empty seats at the dinner table, the families missing loved ones, and the futures that were cut short. And no matter our age, background, or where we come from, we pledge to “never forget.”

Younger generations have heard the stories of the unbearable grief and the immeasurable bravery that emerged on that day. The memory of 9/11 will endure because it was a deeply personal attack on our nation and way of life, impacting every state and territory.

When remembering 9/11, we often first think of New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, recalling the awful images and a deep sense of loss. Victims of the attack came from around the globe and from 26 states — from Maine to Texas to California. The heroes and volunteers who worked at Ground Zero for months, putting their own lives at risk daily, came from all across our nation.

The attack on our country was an attack on all of us. And unsurprisingly, our nation came together in a way not seen since World War II. Without a second thought, we put our differences aside and stood united as Americans.

Today, we honor those who lost their lives, law enforcement and first responders, who put their lives on the line at Ground Zero and continue to deal with the health effects today and the American spirit that lived on through even our darkest days.

Today, let us put our differences aside, come together as Americans, and never forget.

Rosie Rios, Chair