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Sixteen years ago today, a devastating attack on American soil changed our lives forever. Whether you lost someone you loved, witnessed colleagues rush to save others, faced imminent deployment, or watched in horror from your television screen, something within us all crumbled as the towers fell.

Firefighters carrying flags in downtown Southern Pines

Though the town of Southern Pines’ ceremony was canceled because of Hurricane Irma, firefighters took a 3.43-mile trek this morning in memory of the 343 firefighters killed this day, 16 years ago.

Across Moore County, first responders and armed forces members showed solidarity with those who lost their lives — and honored those still fighting the battle against terrorism — on what is now known as Patriot Day.

The town of Vass held a small ceremony, with William Webb, commander ofAmerican Legion Post 296, delivering these words through a cold morning wind:

“If the memory of Sept. 11 is fresh for anyone, it is for our men and women in uniform … tasked with preventing another tragedy of that magnitude. We are indebted to them for their willingness to protect our country.” 

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Two firefighters after climbing 110 floors