It has been 21 years since that tragic day in 2001.
Just over two decades years since that morning when four U.S. jetliners were hijacked by terrorista we soon learned were part of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.
Two of the flights crashed into the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center, bringing down those magnificent buildings -- along with another in the complex -- and killing more than 2,700 people in the buildings and on the planes. Several other buildings in the area were damaged as well and the Wall Street district would remain a virtual ghost town for weeks.
The third plane crashed into the Pentagon, tearing a large hole in the side of America's military headquarters and claiming 184 in all.
The last airliner, reportedly headed for either the U.S. Capitol or the White House, crashed near Shanksville, Penn., after passengers and crew heroically attempted to wrest control from the hijackers.
Some 2,974 people -- including 19 hijackers -- died in the attacks that day. Another 24 remain listed as missing from the World Trade Center.
And the man who boasted of planning and ordering the attacks -- Osama bin Laden -- was finally brought to justice.
President George W. Bush was a commanding presence in the weeks after the attacks. He provided strong leadership, reassured the country and vowed to hunt down bin Laden no matter where he tried to hide.
We went into Afghanistan to find him. We toppled his allies in the Taliban and captured some key al-Qaeda leaders. But not bin Laden.
Then we went to war in Iraq and that became our top priority. It shouldn't have. Not until we had Osama bin Laden.
President Bush was unable to fulfill his pledge to get bin Laden. So then it fell to President Barack Obama to go after the man responsible for the most vicious act of terror ever committed on U.S. soil.
President Obama took up the war on terror and directed a renewed effort to bring bin Laden to justice. It was on his watch that intelligence gave us our military the final pieces of information it needed to formulate a plan. The president gave the order and the military brilliantly executed the plan.
On May 2, 2011, under the cover of darkness, U.S. helicopters ferried a crack team of U.S. Navy SEALS to the walled compound in Pakistan that served as bin Laden's last hideout.
In under 40 minutes it was all over. Bin Laden was dead.
Yes, it took nearly 10 years to find Osama bin Laden. But find him we did. And he paid the price he deserved for orchestrating the deadly attacks of September 11, 2001.
As will all who attack this great nation. It's a lesson our enemies would do well to heed.
Today, we remember nearly 3,000 souls taken far too soon -- souls resting just a bit more peacefully this year. We pray for them as well as for their families and friends.
And for our nation. God bless America.