There are days in our lives that are unforgettable; forever etched in our hearts and minds. Everyone remembers where they were on Sept. 11, 2001 as thousands of people died during one of the nation's deadliest attacks on United States soil.
“I'll never forget that morning. Where I'm trying to get dressed and the kids ready for school and than the news came on. That day, a nation came together...,” said Commander Hector Villarreal with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) at a 9/11 event. “it didn't matter what race, denomination or anything - Unity.”
Across the nation on Tuesday, people paused for a moment to commemorate those who died during the attacks 17 years ago.
The 9/11 attacks occurred when Islamic terrorist group hijacked four United States flights.
Two of the airplanes hit the World Trade Centers towers in New York City, one airplane crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Pennsylvania and the other flight crashed landed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The last flight was reportedly heading towards Washington, D.C., until passengers attempted to take control of the plane.
Passengers of all four flights and thousands of others including firemen, officers, medics and innocent victims lost their lives that day. A total of 2,996 died and more than 6,000 were injured.
The Twin Towers were the tallest buildings in the world at the time. In 40 minutes, the buildings were crushed and reduced to a pile of rubble.
Schools like San Diego High School had a moment of silence for the nearly 3,000 people killed. Students with the National Honor Society (NHS) had a breakfast in honor of local first responders and sat with each other to converse and build friendships.
“Seventeen years ago, the members of our chapter were tiny babies or bundles of joy, not yet arrived. We were not watching television along with the rest of the world to witness the terror, destruction and tragic loss of life in 9/11,” said NHS president Max Castillo, a student.
In Alice, first responders gathered at Meridian Care of Alice for the annual Memorial Service and a luncheon.
The United States of America and the Texas Flag were raised flying in half-mast to mourn the lives lost. The United Veterans Burial Association performed “Taps” and the 21-gun salute.
“History, however, has taught us that our nation found hope in the selfless acts of our nations's first responders. The finest qualities of humanity were demonstrated by law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS personnel, doctors, nurses and even many courageous (by-passers), who were determined to rescue and care for those who were injured,” Castillo stated.
President George W. Bush addressed the nation following the attacks.
“Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve," he said. "America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.”