The terror attacks of September 11th, 2001 marked that date in all history as a watershed moment for modern civilization. It’s difficult to overstate the changes that followed the deadliest attack on American soil in the modern era, as the reverberating social, political, and economic effects compounded in ways that will be analyzed for decades to come. An entire generation of Americans have since been raised under the banner of a war on terror that rages on. Within the next year, Americans will swear their oaths of enlistment and enter into a fight that began before they were even born, motivated, empowered by the collective sense of loss that permeated throughout the nation, granting the diverse and disparate peoples of the United States a brief glimpse of apolitical solidarity.

The attacks of September 11th, 2001 demonstrated the worst in humanity, but the through the turmoil and the rubble, other things were on full display: pride, compassion, bravery, and the indomitable American spirit.

The following images were captured during the attacks on this day, 17 years ago. Today, we look back, not to reopen old wounds, but to honor the scars that define us. We honor the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives, the millions more that mourned, and the friendly nations that came to America’s aid, but more so, we honor the American ideal — never achieved, but always sought through the passions and will of hard working men and women. A group of terrorists believed they could break that will through their attack, but what they found instead was a nation galvanized by its willingness to heal, and to respond.

In the years since, America has grown perhaps more politically divided than ever, but the lessons learned on this day 17 years ago remain: in times of need, of great strife, Americans will find common ground with their neighbors and work together toward a better future.

Here are some particularly powerful images from the date that will forever define this era of history, many with the same captions they had in the days immediately following the attack, as provided by the Associated Press:

A plane approaches New York’s World Trade Center moments before it struck the tower at left, as seen from downtown Brooklyn, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. In an unprecedented show of terrorist horror, the 110 story towers collapsed in a shower of rubble and dust after 2 hijacked airliners carrying scores of passengers slammed into them. (AP Photo/ William Kratzke)
Flames and smoke pour from a building at the Pentagon Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, after a direct, devasting hit from an aircraft. (AP Photo/Mandatory Credit, Will Morris)
A helicopter flies over the Pentagon in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 as smoke billows over the building. The Pentagon took a direct, devastating hit from an aircraft and the enduring symbols of American power were evacuated as an apparent terrorist attack quickly spread fear and chaos in the nation’s capital. (AP Photo/Heesoon Yim)
Firefighters make their way through the rubble after two airliners crashed into the World Trade Center in New York bringing down the landmark buildings Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Shawn Baldwin)
Smoke billows from the towers of the World Trade Center in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. In one of the most horrifying attacks ever against the United States, terrorists crashed two airliners into the World Trade Center in a deadly series of blows that brought down the twin 110-story towers. (AP Photo/Jim Collins)
People run from the collapse of World Trade Center towers in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 after terrorists crashed two hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center and brought down the twin 110-story towers. (AP Photo/Suzanne Plunkett)
Rubble and ash fill lower Manhattan streets after two hijacked airliners were crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. The planes crashed into the upper floors of both World Trade Center towers minutes apart collapsing the 110-story buildings. (AP Photo/Boudicon One)
The Statue of Liberty, right, stands at the entrance to New York Harbor as the twin towers of the World Trade Center burn in this view from Jersey City, N.J., Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Mike Derer)
Firefighters rest as rescue efforts continue at the World Trade Center in New York Wednesday Sept. 12, 2001. Many firemen are missing and feared dead in the rubble from the terrorist attack Tuesday. (AP Photo/ Beth Keiser)
Military and fire personnel get set to unfurl a large American flag on the roof of the Pentagon, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2001. A hijacked airliner crashed into the structure on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
A makeshift altar, constructed for a worship service, overlooks the the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2001, in Shanksville, Pa. The plane was hijacked and crashed during Tuesday’s terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Father Brian Jordan, second from left, blesses, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2001, a cross of steel beams found amidst the rubble of the World Trade Center by a laborer two days after the collapse of the twin towers. The cross was from World Trade tower One, and was found in World Trade building Six and moved to its present location Wednesday. Other rescue and construction workers join Jordan for the ceremony. A protective mesh hangs on the building in the background. (AP Photo/Pool, Kathy Willens)