Twelve years have passed since the September 11 attacks thrust our nation into years and years of war, and the anniversary was marked with the annual Freedom Walk in Killeen Wednesday.

Wounded warriors, first responders and grieving family members walked around the track at Killeen High School in a show of reverence for the fallen.

"It's so important to always remember," Dianna Shields said through tears.

Her husband, Jonathan was killed in Fallujah, Iraq on November 12, 2004.

Dianna and other families of fallen soldiers listened to a bell toll 11 times and released balloons into the sky over Leo Buckley Stadium after the Freedom Walk.

She'll never forget Jonathan's words when they saw the planes hit.

"He said this means war," Dianna said, "just remembering that conversation, and the news was saying it's a terror attack, and we were talking, and we were praying, and then just weeks later he's gone."

That was Jonathan's first deployment in the war on terror, but it wouldn't be his last.

Wounded warrior Specialist Jessica Langford was in 8th grade reading class when she heard of the 9/11 attacks, and when the Twin Towers came crumbling down, she decided to rise up.

"Seeing what happened on American soil, it was the biggest thing that made me want to go off and fight," Jessica said.

Looking back over 12 years of battle, there are some memories that will never fade for Jessica.

She said, "The main thing I remember is my fallen comrades that I've lost in battle. They've sacrificed the most."

The war on terrorism rages on.

More than 6,600 service members have laid down their lives, approximately 550 of them from Fort Hood.

"We fight because we cannot sit while our enemies plot against us, we fight because Americans should never again have to endure the shock of that terrible day," said Brigadier General Joseph Martin, 1st Cavalry Division Deputy Commanding General, at a ceremony before the walk.

The flag at Killeen High School flew at half staff, as did flags all across the nation Wednesday, a very meaningful symbol of remembrance to those who lost something they can never get back.

"And so I hope we stop shopping, stop dancing, stop partying for a moment to always remember and not to forget the ultimate sacrifices that were made," Dianna said with tears streaming down her face.

Reporter: Sophia Stamas

Photographer: Chris Buford