Twelve years ago on September 11th, 2001, we witnessed one of the darkest days in our state and nation’s history. It was a day that forever changed the way we look at the world.

On the 12-year anniversary of September 11th, we pause to reflect on how our world was changed by that tragedy and its lasting impact over the last decade. As we solemnly honor the memory of those who lost their lives, we can also look back with pride on the sacrifices, commitment and dedication of the thousands of Americans who answered the call to duty in the wake of such an enormous tragedy.

America’s strength was shown in the heroic actions of the firefighters, police officers, emergency medical personnel and rescue workers who risked their lives to help the victims.

America’s strength was shown in the compassion of the thousands of people who waited in line in communities all across the country to donate blood for their fellow citizens, and the millions of Americans who gave their hard-earned money to help the victims’ families.

America’s strength was shown in the pride of hundreds of volunteers from our region who traveled to New York City to assist in the relief efforts.

Most of all, America’s strength was shown in the bravery of the men and women of the military, who continue to sacrifice so much every day to defend our freedom and our nation.

Their challenges were always great and their response always greater. The millions of Americans who sleep safely at night have these individuals to thank for defending our liberty. As we remember our heroes, past and present, let us also acknowledge those individuals who continue to serve our nation at home and around the world.

Our nation's first responders, be they members of the military, firemen, police officers or emergency medical personnel, continue to risk their lives each and every day to protect their community, state and country.

We also honor Webster Police Lt. Michael “Chip” Chiapperini and West Webster volunteer firefighter Tomasz Kaczowka whose lives were taken in the line of duty last Christmas Eve day. Chip and Tomasz are truly heroes in every sense of the word, and their selfless dedication and commitment to the Webster community are an inspiration to us all and will never be forgotten.

West Webster Volunteer Firefighters Ted Scardino and Joseph Hofstetter were ambushed and seriously wounded in the same vicious attack as they responded to a call for help, and their sacrifice and bravery is a tribute to all of our brave first responders and volunteer firefighters.

Together, we pause to remember the heroism of Webster Police Officer Mark Reed, Webster Police Sgt. Kevin Hall, Webster Police Officer Shaun Welch, Irondequoit Police Officer Doug Pollock and Greece Police Officer Jon Ritter. The collective actions of these extraordinary officers saved the lives of countless others who may have been injured or fatally wounded if not for their selfless actions.

Our nation is on high alert.  As evidenced by the recent bombing in Boston, the threat of terrorism in our country still exists. We must continue to be vigilant in protecting our homeland and protecting our citizens.

These acts of terrorism remind us that we live in the greatest country in the world — the land of the free and the home of the brave. We must never forget how blessed and fortunate we are to be Americans.

Our world changed on September 11th, but New Yorkers and Americans have shown that our resolve will never be compromised.

Mike Nozzolio, R-Fayette, is a state senator for the 54th District, which covers a large portion of Ontario County and also includes all of Wayne and Seneca counties, as well as the town of Webster.