Patriot Day honors, remembers lives lost

By Porsha AuzenneSeptember 12, 2023

Patriot Day honors, remembers lives lost
Fort Johnson leadership salutes the wreath representing the lives lost on 9/11 during a ceremony held at Fort Johnson's fire station Sept. 11. (Photo Credit: Porsha Auzenne) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT JOHNSON, La. — A day that will forever be embedded in the hearts and minds of the American population is Sept. 11, 2001. The tragic events remain forever ingrained in the minds of those alive before, during and after that day. However, from the ashes arose a nation not filled with fear, but one united with patriotism and pride. Just as the blue lights illuminate the New York skyline at Freedom Tower, the nation continues to shine in the face of adversity.

Today, 9/11 is annually observed as Patriot Day — a national day of service and remembrance for the thousands of lives lost in the 9/11 attacks.

Patriot Day was founded Dec. 8, 2001 by a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress, when President George W. Bush signed Public Law 107-89. Each year, the president issues a proclamation that requests all U.S. flags be flown at half-staff. Americans are asked to hold a moment of silence starting at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Standard Time — when the World Trade Center was first struck by an airplane — to honor the many whose lives were cut short.

Patriot Day was created for the first responders who rushed to save as many lives as possible; the civilians who put themselves in harm’s way to aid their fellow citizens and the Soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the years of war that followed. The day is a way for those left behind to forever remember their unconditional bravery and courage.

“My mother used to say that ‘courage lies in every heart, and one day it will be summoned,’” President Joseph R. Biden said in his 2021 Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance Proclamation. “It was summoned and shown by those who responded to the events on 9/11. First responders, emergency workers and civilians ran to where the devastation was greatest. Death came in an instant, but there were still survivors to be found. A determined group of heroes on board United Flight 93 sacrificed their lives to save others. In every case, Americans faced unimaginable with resolve and courage. Today and every day, we draw hope from the strength and selflessness of those who stepped up to serve their fellow man and our Nation on that tragic day.”

Mitchell Smith, who works as an Antiterrorism Officer at Fort Johnson’s Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security division, emphasized what the day means to him.

“Patriot Day is a day of remembrance for the tragic events of September 11, 2001,” said Smith. “It may mean different things to different people, but generally, it’s a day to reflect on the lives lost, honor the heroes who responded and reaffirm a commitment to unity and the values that define the nation. It’s a day to remember the importance of freedom, security and the resilience of the American spirit.”

Just as the rest of the nation gathered to observe the 22nd anniversary of Patriot Day, Fort Johnson held a 9/11 ceremony. Members of the community and leadership gathered Sept. 11 at the Fort Johnson Fire Station to pay their respects to the 3000 lives lost, including those of 343 firefighters, 72 law enforcement officers and 55 military personnel.

It’s a day to acknowledge those patriots with the nation’s respect, honor and remembrance.