By John Pogas

16 years ago today our nation was attacked by cowards and our world was changed forever. 2,996 innocent people died that day. I lost 176 Aon colleagues. I wept bitterly for days afterward. I still cry every time I see the footage. And I will never forget. I will never forget the pain. The suffering. The anger. And the pride in how our nation came together as one. How we honored our police and firefighters for their commitment to serving – and willingness to pay the ultimate sacrifice for our safety. How we praised the men and women of our armed forces as they fought for freedom and justice. Every home flew Old Glory, and American flag sales soared.

Today, we are more divided than ever as a nation. Our flag and our national anthem are being treated with unprecedented disrespect from fellow Americans. Thugs are taunting and even shooting at the very same people who are protecting them. Knucklehead athletes are being celebrated for “sitting out” the national anthem. Protest groups are desecrating and burning the American flag. These idiots have forgotten. They forgot about all of those who sacrificed to protect their freedoms. They forgot how our country was attacked because of the freedoms we enjoy. They forgot how to be civil. They have forgotten how to be human.

I still fly Old Glory in my yard. Every day. Just like my father did. A Greek immigrant who loved this country more than life itself. I still remember all of those who sacrificed to keep us free. I still remember that horrible day. And I still remember that we all have the freedom to speak our minds. But I also know how to respect this great nation and all that it has afforded my family and me. Unfortunately, that level of respect is rapidly diminishing.

Today, as with every day, I will thank God for the blessings of American citizenship. I will pray for my family, friends and those who protect our freedom, our nation, and our communities. Today I will also pray for the souls of those who perished 16 years ago. Please join me.