Originally Published: September 11, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Today, as we pay tribute to first responders on this 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks - and what the nation now calls Patriot Day - we remember our own losses in honor and remembrance.
On that fateful Tuesday, beginning early in the morning, nearly 3,000 people died after 19 terrorists executed four coordinated attacks on the United States. Two airplanes were hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center, a third crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a fourth - meant for Washington - crashed in Shanksville, Pa., after passengers tried to overcome the hijackers.
It was the deadliest incident for firefighters in the history of the United States.
The fateful day for Arizona, Yavapai County, Prescott and Yarnell happened on June 30 of this year when 19 of the Granite Mountain Hotshots perished fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, which stands as the deadliest wildfire in Arizona's history. It also produced the highest firefighter death toll on a single wildfire in the nation since 1933.
The size of the tragedies makes a difference to history, but here and now, the differences fade until they hardly matter. Both incidents involve loss of life and loved ones left behind. All the victims - and all the survivors - are linked by the insurmountable burden of grief and questions of what might have been.
The residents of New York City have for all these years carried a burden that we here in Yavapai County have only begun to recognize. The pain and the grief never leave, but the determined response of that metropolis, and the steady course of rebuilding now nearly complete, can serve us here as a template for reaching what will eventually become our new normal.
To honor our fallen protectors and heroes - on this day, the President of the United States requests that the American flag be flown at half-staff at individual homes, at the White House, and on all government buildings and establishments, at home and abroad. A moment of silence is to be observed beginning at 5:46 a.m. Arizona time, when the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Join us as we are also to use the day to volunteer for service. Focus your talents and energy to tackle challenges facing us right here at home. Like our veterans, who have given so much to this country through their service, find opportunities today to give back to our communities in remembrance of our patriots.