BY DUKE AIONA – Nine years ago today, America suffered one of the most devastating attacks in the history of our great nation. On a day that began much like any other, our lives were forever changed by unthinkable acts of terrorism.

This September 11, we honor the memory of the nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children whose lives were taken in those surprise attacks, and celebrate the heroes who emerged in one of our nation’s darkest moments.

Ordinary people turned into heroes in the face of danger, displaying extraordinary acts of courage, selflessness and aloha.

New York City firefighters, policemen and port authority officers, active duty military and reservists, and Department of Defense civilians answered the call without hesitation, risking their lives for their fellow citizens.

Loyalty, duty and self-sacrifice prevailed over fear, uncertainty and sadness.

Not since the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor has America experienced such a devastating blow. But just as we did then, Americans across the country united with pride and resolve to defend our way of life.

The brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces continue to fight bravely to protect America from the threat of terrorism and to defend the honor and freedom of our nation. My thoughts and prayers remain with them and their families every day.

While it is difficult to find meaning in the events of that fateful day, we can take comfort in the memory of the admirable displays of courage and sacrifice, and the renewal of our faith in one another.

Let us never forget those whose lives were tragically cut short on September 11, those who continue to fight for our safety and freedom, and those who reminded us on September 11 of the incredible power of the human spirit.

Duke Aiona is the lt governor of Hawaii

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