IT HAS been 12 years to the day when on that fateful Tuesday morning events unfolded that would forever change the fabric of the United States and its people.
The day began much like any other. Americans were already hard at work or on their way to it. Business was being conducted. Lives were being lived, most blissfully unaware of the troubles of the world around them.
That all changed at 8:46 a.m. EST when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center's North Tower.
People watched in horror as smoke and flames poured from the gaping hole made by Flight 11. Any thoughts that the crash was merely an accident were quickly dashed less than 20 minutes later when United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower.
Something was most definitely wrong, and unlike the events of Dec. 7, 1941 in Hawaii, these atrocities were playing out live on television for the nation, and the world, to see.
At 9:37 p.m., American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Finally, United Airlines Flight 93, later determined to be bound for another target in Washington, D.C., crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa. the bravery of the passengers aboard Flight 93 credited for foiling the plans of the hijackers aboard. They gave their lives to save the lives of countless others.
Nearly 3,000 people died in the WTC attacks, more than 1,600 of which have still yet to be identified.
All 246 people on the four planes died, along with 125 at the site of the Pentagon crash.
It's been 12 years and yet you'll be hard pressed to find a single person who can't recall what they were doing that day, how they felt and how it changed their life moving forward.
Today is Patriot Day and National Day of Service of Remembrance.
In New York, victims' families will gather at Ground Zero to commemorate and remember the attacks as the names of the victims will be read at the 2-year-old memorial plaza.
Wreath laying, name reading and other tributes will take place at the Pentagon, while memorial activities will also commence at the National Memorial in Shanksville.
The events are two-years removed from the first milestone anniversary of the attacks, the 10-year mark, back in 2011.
Locally, Sept. 11 is being marked by a few events.
A new memorial flag is flying at half mast today at Heritage Port in Wheeling. It was designed by Cleveland-native Sam Tomaselli, a retired police investigator.
In addition, today serves as the kickoff to The United Way's fundraising campaign with the Day of Caring as countless volunteers will descend on WesBanco Arena to learn how they can help out their neighbors and their community.
From clerical work to cleaning and painting, volunteers will assist non-profit agencies today to perform functions they otherwise would not have the finances to see completed.
Also commemorating the day is the Red, White and YOU blood drive that begins at noon and runs until 6 p.m. at the Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church in Wheeling.
Hughes may be reached at mhughes@timesleader online.com