The words, 20 years later, are still difficult to come by. How could they not be? What happened was, and still is, unimaginable.

The images of Sept. 11, 2001, remain fresh in our minds, as if that dreadful day was yesterday.

For people like Karen Marinaccio and Trevor Finn, the pain never goes away. For someone like Jim Kelley, what happened that day and the days afterward still have an impact on him. They clearly left invisible scars.

For a generation of Americans, Sept. 11, 2001, remains the seminal moment of their lives. That will never change.

It can’t change.

If you need a reminder of what that day was like, listen to Karen Marinaccio. She was there, working in 7 World Trade Center, attached to the tower by an elevated walkway. Here is what she saw: “It looked like bent metal was coming down in pieces off the building but then I realized, ‘Oh my God. It’s bodies.’ I saw three people jump. The sound when they hit was even worse.”

The sentence is harsh and difficult to read. It should be. That is what happened that day. For many not in the shadow of the World Trade Center or Pentagon or Shanksville, it was someone else’s story. Sure people were angry America was attacked, but the personal impact wasn’t as personal.

That is why it is important to hear what people like Marinaccio saw and heard.

Trevor Finn’s cousin Moira Smith was the only female New York City police officer killed that day. There is an iconic, powerful image inside today’s commemorative section of her rescuing a man from the buildings. Then you realize after doing her job, she went back inside to rescue more people when the building collapsed on her and thousands of others.

Finn said he wasn’t surprised to learn Smith went back into the buildings. It’s who she was. That didn’t, still doesn’t, lessen the pain. “That was a family member taken from us way too young, a daughter, sister, mother, cousin, friend,” he said. “She lived life strongly. She helped people. She’s definitely missed.”

Kelley, the Northumberland County Coroner, went to New York City to help the medical examiners identify remains months later.

It is difficult to imagine the emotional scars. “It affected me in ways I don’t like to talk about,” he said.

For those who lived through it, even from a distance, the impact is still immeasurable.

It always must be.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.

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