For many of us who lived through the attacks, Sept. 11, 2001 feels like yesterday. We still hold the vivid images in our minds and feel the knots in our stomachs when watching the footage on TV. We cringe at the annual reshowing of these events. The world changed before our eyes that day, and we waited with fear and resolve in the weeks that followed to understand what we saw. At Ground Zero, at the Pentagon, and in the skies above Pennsylvania, some of us acted immediately to do what we could.  Many more were inspired to action in the weeks thereafter. From that tragedy was forged a new generation of resolute Americans.

Most people remember exactly where they were that morning. Even those who were children at the time can tell you what they felt and how they saw their futures shifting in front of them. Multiple generations stomached a historic moment.

It’s been 17 years since the attacks, and the newest generation of Americans have no memory of that fateful day. The youngest alive then were too young to remember. Some yet, now on the cusp of adulthood, almost eligible for military service today, hadn’t even been born. Sept. 11 is taught in history classes across the country, to children and young adults with only a vague recollection of the events or no immediate experience of the day at all.

That’s why this anniversary and every one that follows are so important. Those of us who lived through Sept. 11 must make sure succeeding generations understand the weight of that day and how it changed our lives – and theirs.

For those of us who served, we need to share our stories of willingly passing up the future we might have had in order to enlist in the military and deploying all over the world because of a single day of inspiration. We must talk about the pain we saw and the resolve we felt to avenge those who fell and protect those who survived.

On this Patriot Day, we remember the lives of all those lost in New York, Arlington, and Shanksville nearly two decades ago. We honor the courage and sacrifice of all those who stepped up in the wake of tragedy to help those around them. We thank those who put on a uniform – yesterday, today, and tomorrow – to bring an end to terror around the world.