On September 11, 2001, thousands of lives were changed forever. We all know what happened: terrorists working for Osama Bin Laden hijacked four different planes and were able to crash them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I was only four years old when these terrorist attacks struck our nation, so I can’t specifically recall that day. I’m sure, however, that I didn’t fully understand what was going on. Over the next few years, as I started to comprehend it all, I wondered, why would someone want to hurt us? Why did the bad people attack us? Questions that plagued me as a child were the same ones that plagued our nation, and still do.

Even though I can’t remember that exact day, that awful day, millions of people can. People all over the world were traumatized by the effects of 9/11. To many, the events of that day will never just be a terrible memory – it was a real life event, the effects of which they still carry around with them. An unimaginable number of people died that day, but an even greater number had their lives torn apart. Survivors of the attacks, witnesses, firefighters, police officers, family members, friends, the list goes on and on - all of these people, though still alive, lost a piece of themselves that day that they will never get back. It is important that we remember those who died as well as those who survived.

But memory is a strange thing. Because 100 years from now, on September 11, 2101, it’s likely that none of us will be alive to tell the story. Children will see 9/11 as something that happened in the distant past, something they learn about only in their textbooks. They will memorize the facts of the event, take their tests, and forget. They won’t feel like it affects them.

But for us, 9/11 is very real. We will not forget. And it is our responsibility to make sure this future world, in which people take for granted American freedom and bravery, never becomes a reality. Despite all of the tragedy that occurred that day, we need to celebrate the courage that it took to overcome all that evil.

It is our job to thank the first responders. They were the ones who risked their lives to save others, knowing they might never see their families again. It is up to us to celebrate those who took down Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. They were the ones brave enough to stand up to the terrorists themselves. We need to comfort those who lost a loved one as well as those who survived the attack. They fought battles most of us cannot even imagine. Finally, and importantly, we need to honor the fallen.

It may be painful to look back and think about all the innocent lives that were taken, but paying homage to them will ensure that their memory never dies. It is in this way that we remember all of those affected by 9/11. It is in this way that we move forward toward a better world. It is in this way that we never forget.