PLYMOUTH, Minn. - As the sun rises over Providence Academy, light begins to glisten on 2,977 tiny flags lining the street. Each flag represents one innocent life lost on September 11, 2001.
Near the Wisconsin border, Hudson firefighters waved their larger flags from an Interstate 94 freeway overpass. Each recalls that morning vividly.
"I was getting my kids ready for school," says Mark Vandesand, who watched the terror attack unfold on television. "You just looked at it and you knew it was bad."
He and his fellow Hudson firefighters knelt to pray at 9:59 a.m., the exact moment the first tower fell.
It was a horrific moment that changed the course of Vandesand's life.
"That was the day I became a firefighter. The first thing I thought about when the tower went down was all the guys who were going up the stairs," says Vandesand.
In south Minneapolis, a Vietnam vet received tangible thanks for his service from the Home Depot Foundation.
They kicked off their nationwide 'Celebration of Service' in Minneapolis by renovating Nathan Hull's home.
"Working with veterans is really so rewarding and it's different," says Kelly Caffarelli, president of the Home Depot Foundation. "They're very humble, unassuming and not really wanting to take help that might be available to others. So talking to Nathan and getting to work side by side with him is just so rewarding and a really special way to spend 9-11."
Whether it was big acts like this, or a simple flag hanging from a fire truck ladder in Buffalo, the message is clear.
Twelve years may have passed -- but we will never forget.