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Scott AFB remembers, pays tribute to 9/11 victims, heroes

  • Published
  • By Col. Kyle Kremer
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing commander

Today I'd like to thank you for joining me here as we pay tribute to those who lost their lives 12 years ago as a result of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil. I'm sure we can all remember where we were on Sept. 11, 2001, when those tragic events unfolded before our eyes on national television. The day started so normally for most of us, but by the end our lives had been changed forever.

As for me, I was a mere 100 yards from where I stand right now, over in Bldg. 1600, when a coworker walked into our duty section a little before 8 a.m. and told us an airplane had just flown into the World Trade Center. I immediately wondered what aircraft malfunction had caused such a tragic mishap. Just a few short minutes later, we all knew ... this was no accident.

What followed in the immediate aftermath of the fateful events of that day demonstrated to the entire world what makes America so incredibly special. The national response to support the recovery efforts in New York, Washington and Shanksville was overwhelming, and the call to duty and military service was incredible.

It's hard for me to fathom, but some of our military members serving today were in the first grade when those terrorist attacks occurred. Indeed, since 2011, five million members of the 9/11 generation have joined our military, swearing an oath to serve during what has become the longest war in American history. It's fitting that we gather today with our civilian coworkers, friends and families on this "National Day of Service and Remembrance," as we collectively serve our great nation.

The memorial we have on display at Scott feature a recovered portion of the World Trade Center, soil and foliage from Pennsylvania and limestone representing the Pentagon. It offers a fitting representation to remember those who were lost and remind us of why we serve. It is a symbol of our resiliency. The inscription upon it reads that it serves "as a foundation to the beliefs that bind our nation: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

In the aftermath of the events of Sept. 11, the symbol that immediately rose over New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville--uniting and reminding us all of those foundational beliefs--was our great American flag. I can think of no better tribute to those we lost than by conducting a retreat ceremony in their hone. Let us honor those whose lives were cut short and in respect for their families and firend, mourn their absence.