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Originally published: 2013-09-12 12:30:11
Last modified: 2013-09-12 12:30:55

Our View: 12 years later, a nation's heart remembers

Schools are in session and no businesses are closed in observance of Patriot Day today -- the occasion is not a federal holiday -- but these things do not diminish the significance of the day most Americans still refer to as, "9/11."

As a nation, we rightly hold today in memory the 2,977 people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. And although the name of the observance initially received opposition from the state of Massachusetts, which had already a Patriots' Day to observe the first battles of the American Revolution, its current and formal name of Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance speaks clearly to those memories.

Silence can also speak loudly on a day such as this, and many Americans will observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. -- the time the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. In addition, at the requests of the president, and N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory, United States and North Carolina flags at homes, U.S. government buildings and establishments, and the White House will fly at half-staff today. Many Americans also will use the day to find and volunteer for service opportunities.

All this is as it should be, given the great losses our nation sustained not only on that day, but on the days following and during the military conflicts that ensued.

For many, those memories are raw, even a dozen years later, and McCrory spoke to this: "The anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is a stark reminder of the sacrifices made by North Carolina's veterans, military personnel and first responders to protect our freedom and way of life."

Protection and freedom are two words that go to the heart of our country. Today, those words echo throughout our nation.