Sixteen years old.

Imagine just turning sixteen.  Your whole life is ahead of you.  You’ve in the final years of high school, your parents are talking about teaching you how to drive, and that someone special keeps catching your eye and you’re hoping that you’re catching theirs as well.

You’ve just turned sixteen.

And if you’re just turning sixteen today…

You’ve never lived in a world where these structures existed.

Sixteen years ago, on this very day, the United States of America’s citizens were viciously and brutally attacked by demagogues and terrorists, following the orders of the diabolical Osama bin Laden, as they used our commercial airplanes to destroy buildings, kill citizens, and commit mass atrocities upon our citizens.

World Trade Center buildings 1, 2 and 7 were destroyed.  The Pentagon in Washington, D.C. was damaged.  Passengers overcame their terrorist hijackers to force the plane to land in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

It was the worst attack on American soil in generations.  Not since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  Not since the Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine.

This was terror on a scale we had never previously conceived.  As a nation, we mourned those we lost.  We prayed for their souls.  And then we rallied.  And we fought back.  And we eventually captured Osama bin Laden.  And we ensured he would never harm another living soul ever again.

And we rebuilt.  The Pentagon is functioning again.  We have a new Freedom Tower in the original location of the World Trade Center towers.  And every year, upon this day, we remember the events of that tragic and sinister morning.

And we never will forget.

No matter how many years have passed.

Time may heal all wounds… but as a nation, time should never allow those wounds to be forgotten.

Sixteen years have passed since that day of terror.

Please, let us never forget the lives of those who perished, whether it be on the planes, or in the towers, or on the fields.  Let us always remember the fathers and mothers and children who never expected that their mornings would have no evening.

Let us never forget the families who said goodbye to their loved ones at the airport, not realizing that goodbye was forever.

Let us never forget the firemen and police and other first responders who ran into the towers to save whoever they could before the buildings crumbled to the ground.

Let us never forget the volunteers who participated in search and rescue operations after the towers fell.  And the other volunteers who assisted them.  And the businesses who stayed open and fed the volunteers without charge or cost.

Let us never forget the soldiers who fought and fought until they finally found Osama bin Laden, and who exacted justice before he could commit any more attacks upon our soil.

Please, let us never forget.

It’s been sixteen years since that day.

Let us never forget that moment.  And let us never forget the aftermath.

We must never forget.  Because to forget would allow this to happen again.

And we must never allow that to happen ever again to our citizens.

Not now.

Not ever.