For generations, schoolchildren in the United States have learned important dates in American history. October 12, 1492; July 4, 1776; January 1, 1863; December 7, 1941; July 20, 1969; to name a few.
Unfortunately, grade schoolers of today learn of another date: September 11, 2001. As every reader remembers, that's the date of the four coordinated terrorist attacks on American soil.
That date is known as well as or better than Christopher Columbus' "discovery" of America, the declaration by the 13 colonies of independence from Britain, the effective date of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the day that Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon.
Nearly 3,000 people perished in the attacks on September 11, 2001, including some prominent West Virginians.
Those attacks, directed primarily at civilians, were the work of religious extremists - cowards with the misguided belief that killing innocent people will earn them a place in heaven.
Reasonable and truly faithful people know better.
Since then, more than 6,700 American soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Today is a day that should never be forgotten. Doing so would mean letting the nation's guard down, which runs the risk of such an attack happening again.
There is debate recently about the National Security Agency and its review of records of telephone calls and emails designed to detect communications activity with known terrorists.
Many complain that such monitoring is a violation of their privacy rights.
Those complainants have a point, but a computer algorithm program that is able to detect a call to a known terrorist among millions of telephone calls placed in a day doesn't violate a citizen's rights nearly as much as would a terrorist group able to succeed in killing innocent Americans.
If you need proof, just ask the loved ones of those killed on 9/11.
The United States must remain vigilant and take all reasonable and legal means necessary to prevent such tragedies.
Vigilance will preserve citizens' right to life and pursuit of happiness, as Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues so successfully declared on July 4, 1776.