Most of us remember what we were doing, where we were and how we felt 12 years ago Wednesday. But some Americans took those feelings and translated them into action.
"Remember what happened, remember why we're doing it."
That was the mindset for the 5 years Corporal Chad Lantz served in the Marine Corps.
He was young when the events of September 11th, 2001 took place. But it was the military action spurring from that day that motivated Lantz to serve.
"Lit a fire in me, and you know, I wanted to kinda get even but at the same time it just kind of made me feel there was more of a duty that I had to fulfill," said Lantz.
Now he watches fellow service members return home from war with optimism but also apprehension.
"I think that as long as Afghanistan can be a place where the Afghan government can support themselves then coming home is the right thing to do."
Lantz served at the same time as his friend, Lance Corporal Cody Stickels. Stickels was in 7th grade when the images of the Twin Towers first popped up on TV screens. He remembers feeling confused watching the news break.
Much like Lantz, Stickels grew up with a sense of duty.
"I felt like I had to go and help get who was responsible for the cause of this," he said.
Both are now students at Rock Valley College. Stickels is pursuing a career in law enforcement. Lantz will continue his education at the University of Illinois to be an astrophysicist.
Both men served in Afghanistan. Stickels also spent time in Iraq.