This year marks the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. On September 11, 2001, 2,977 innocent people were killed, and more than 6,000 were injured. It was because of the work of thousands of first responders that the death and injury totals weren’t higher.

9/11 Hoosier first responders

Our own brave Hoosiers were a part of the rescue and recovery efforts in Manhattan. Over 70 firefighters, dog handlers and paramedics formed Indiana Task Force 1, and mere hours after the Twin Towers were hit by planes that fateful morning, the task force was bus-bound to New York. These Hoosier first responders worked tirelessly around the clock for over a week. Here’s an interview from one of the Task Force 1 members:

Unfortunately, their diligent work meant days of breathing in debris and chemicals from the fallen buildings. In fact, more than half of the Hoosier first responders have reported illnesses that are related to their exposure to the chemicals in the disaster zone. Luckily, with testimony from 9/11 first responders and advocacy from comedian Jon Stewart, the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund was renewed by Congress this year and will ensure compensation for victims and first responders through 2090. Our brave heroes deserve nothing less than the country’s full support.

Want to pay homage to 9/11 victims and responders? There are plenty of events around Indiana, but if you have the time, check out the 9/11 Memorial in Indianapolis. Indy is already famous for having the second most memorials dedicated to veterans after Washington D.C., but the 9/11 Memorial is a special thing to behold. Created in 2010, the memorial consists of two of the actual beams taken from the Twin Towers, with a bronze eagle looking toward the east (toward NYC). Click here for more info on Indiana’s 9/11 memorial.

So, this September 11, celebrate the Hoosiers who traveled across the country to respond to the attacks. Take a moment to remember those who passed away and lost their lives that day. And, most importantly, never forget how we can come together as a country to persevere through any trial.