I’ll never forget.

I’m not going to let you forget either.

On Sept. 11, 2001, there were 2,606 people who went to work like they would any other day.

Another 343 firefighters did the same, along with 60 police officers and eight paramedics.

None of them even made it to lunch that fateful day.

They lost their lives because there are people in this world who hate our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy, and they will stop at nothing to try and destroy it.

Never forget where you were when you learned about the jetliners that slammed into the World Trade Center towers and brought them down.

Or the one that hit the Pentagon.

Or the one that went down in a field in Pennsylvania because the passengers decided they were not going to let the terrorists complete their mission.

Never forget why 9/11 is no longer just another day on the calendar, and it never will be again.

Never forget the unity, the patriotism our country experienced in the days, weeks and months — even years — following 9/11.

Never forget that feeling. We are sorely lacking that feeling in our country right now, and there is absolutely no reason why it should take a terrorist attack for us to have it.

Never forget how first responders were recognized as the heroes they are, for running toward danger when everyone else was running away.

Never forget they didn’t just do that on that one single day. They do that every single day to keep you and your family safe.

Don’t let isolated incidents, ones that we must condemn and cannot tolerate, to be sure, taint those who deserve to be honored.

Never forget how much stronger we are as a country, as a people, when we close ranks together. United. Not when we try to fight against each other and tear each other apart. Divided.

Never forget.

— Patrick Graham is the owner of The Covington News, The Walton Tribune, Jackson County Sentinel, The Times-Journal and The Sand Mountain Reporter.

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