FORT LEE, Va. – It’s been 18 years, yet people can vividly remember where they were when it all happened as if it was yesterday.

It’s been 18 years, but people still choke up when they think about that day, recalling the terrorist-flown planes crashing into U.S. buildings, the people running through smoke and debris-filled streets and the sheer terror of it all.

Americans recently revisited the pain of Sept. 11, 2001, while taking part in ceremonies across the nation. During the Fort Lee observance last week at the First Logistical Command Memorial, Garrison Commander Col. Hollie Martin recounted the tragic timeline of that day. Attendees could be heard sniffling and many eyes were glistening with tears as she spoke.

Even Martin herself could not remain immune. Her voice wavered while recalling the pain of lost friends and comrades that day.

“The tragic events of 9-11 are forever etched into the hearts and souls of the family members and loved ones of those who died, as well as our nation and the world,” Martin said. “We begin this day remembering those who gave their lives to save countless others, many paying the ultimate sacrifice.

“We begin this day also knowing that we need to teach future generations about (Sept. 11th’s) significance, and what it truly means for our nation’s defense.”

The commander considered 2019’s commemoration to be a milestone, as it marked the closing of a time where the youngest service members were too young to remember that day’s events.

“It marks the beginning of a time when those who join our service ranks from today forward were not born yet,” she added. “These realities of the passage of time stand to remind us of why it’s so important to remember what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.”

On that day, she pointed out, the nation was shaken to its very foundation, but stories of courage and heroism live on.

“Today, I ask you to reflect on the power of individuals who choose to make a difference, and that for years to come, you honor them by renewing your faith in humanity – through service and teaching of others,” the colonel concluded.

Chaplain (Col.) Terry Romine, senior installation chaplain, seconded Martin’s feelings.

“No one volunteered to give their life that day. They unflinchingly step forward to provide aid, defend others and put themselves in harm’s way. Whether they were first responders, or military, or civilians in the towers or the planes who decided to stand up, they all answered the call to service,” he reflected.

“And may we remind ourselves today, while we remember, to answer the call again and again – here I am, send me.”

Romine concluded with a prayer in which he asked for help in preventing future attacks and stressed why it’s important to “always remember so we will all defend against such possibilities ever happening again.”