This day on the calendar never escapes us. For current generations, Sept. 11 annually brings back a flood of memories as Dec. 7 did — and still does — for previous generations.

We will never forget because we can’t. Not that we want to forget how we felt that day 18 years ago, but rather because the images and sounds are indelible.

The clear blue skies and crisp autumn air. The streaking planes and explosions. The buildings falling.

It was all out of a movie. No way it could be real. But it was so real we still feel it, see it, hear it today, 6,574 days later.

When we think about Sept. 11, 2001, and the days that followed, we remember what mattered.

Americans embraced each other, from New York City to Washington, D.C., to Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

It was the only way to get through the unimaginable.

Together.

Some tried to cast a wide net of blame in the aftermath. The 19 terrorists were all Muslim, so all Muslims must be terrorists, right?

President George W. Bush quashed that thought process. Less than a week after 9/11, he visited the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C., and delivered a message that calmed the masses.

“Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads. And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect,” he said on Sept. 17, 2001. “I’ve been told that some fear to leave; some don’t want to go shopping for their families; some don’t want to go about their ordinary daily routines because, by wearing cover, they’re afraid they’ll be intimidated. That should not and that will not stand in America.

“Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don’t represent the best of America, they represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior. This is a great country. It’s a great country because we share the same values of respect and dignity and human worth.”

We have strayed far from how we felt on Sept. 12, 2001. The nation seems more divided by the day.

“That should not and that will not stand in America.”

Today we should remember what Sandy Dahl said in 2002. Dahl, the wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl was in Shanksville a year after the tragedy when she said, “If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.”

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

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