Our View: 17 years later, we must cling to sense of unity

For many, it seems hard to believe 17 years have passed since America was forever changed.

Tuesday, the community, along with thousands of others across the nation, paused to remember the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

It was 17 years ago that America essentially ground to a halt and watched in horror as attacks occurred at the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C.

On that day, 19 men hijacked four U.S. airplanes bound for the west coast.

At the World Trade Center, 2,753 people were killed when hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were crashed into the north and south towers. Among those killed were 343 firefighters and 23 police officers.

At the Pentagon in Washington, 184 people were killed when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building.

Near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 40 passengers and crew members aboard United Airlines Flight 93 died when the plane crashed into a field.

To this day, only about 60 percent of the victims have been positively identified.

While thousands of people lost their lives that day, millions of others’ lives were forever changed.

Whether it be family, friends, coworkers, passersby or the general public, it would be hard to find someone who was living that day who hasn’t been impacted by the events of Sept. 11.

These days, students in high school are learning about 9/11 as a historical event. Most of them were not even alive when the attacks occurred.

But for many of us in the community, it is easy to recall where we were when time stood still and we watched our country be attacked.

The aftermath has resulted in many years of war, where countless American servicemen and women have been killed.

To this day, Americans pause again on Sept. 11 each year to remember those who have lost their lives and the many families and individuals who will be forever changed because of the attacks.

After the attacks, there was a sense of unity in the country that likely hadn’t been felt since six decades prior when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941.

It was a sense of unity that transcended race, gender, sexual orientation, even party lines. And one that Americans are likely longing for in a time when the country seems more divided than ever.

We must cling to that feeling of unity more so now than ever. As we all know, “United we stand, divided we fall.”