By Staff Sgt. Matthew Britton
U.S. Army Central
“I was in Gastonia, North Carolina. I really couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” said a United States Army Central Patriot Day observer. “I was at 40th and Park, two blocks from Grand Central, survivors were running past our building,” said another. A Soldier chimed in from the back, “I was in fifth grade and they had us write a letter on how we felt.” She enlisted in the U.S. Army nine years later.
USARCENT held a 9/11 remembrance service at the command’s headquarters on Sept. 11, 2019. Although experiences and memories ranged from person to person in attendance, everyone agreed that the entire world seemed to stop that day.
“I think that day was the day I realized what it meant to be in the military,” said one observer. “It was kind of just of job in the beginning. I was stationed in Germany and was on call for QRF (Quick Reaction Force). I remember the news was on every channel and we got a phone call saying we’ve been stood-up (activated). That was the day I really realized what we do in the military and what our purpose is.”
This humble, yet significant, service allowed USARCENT personnel to honor and reflect on the nearly 3,000 lives lost, and pay tribute to the brave first responders who kept that number from rising.
“It’s something we always want to do as part of our core competencies as U.S. Army Chaplain Corps,” said Maj. Jerry Thompson, USARCENT Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion chaplain. “We nurture the living, care for the wounded, and honor the fallen. In this case, for Patriot Day, for reflection and remembrance of 9/11, we think of all of those lives that were lost, the family members and those who were left behind. It’s a tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
As one of the biggest U.S. tragedies since Pearl Harbor, Sept. 11th is still an emotionally significant day where the country takes time to comes together as one, as Americans.
“Just like we never leave a fallen comrade behind, we never forget,” said Thompson. “It’s one time in our nation’s history that pulled us together and we were unified in our efforts. For us to remember and do it here, it’s one aspect of us being Americans that really shines through during these times of tragedy and circumstance.”
9/11 this year marks 18 years since the twin tower attacks. Military recruits are now at an age where they were not even alive during the catastrophe.
“Those who weren’t alive, your parents were alive,” said Thompson. “It impacted our history and it’s always good for us to remember our history.
Not just for remembrance, but also to learn. Two of our Army values is selfless sacrifice and personal courage. There was a lot of our Army values that were demonstrated that day. It’s something really that all of us can learn from.”
As the service closed, those in attendance were asked to receive the benediction in which ever faith they preferred, reflect on our fallen, and to live each day to the fullest.
“I don’t think we need to wait until 9/11 every year to remember and reflect,” said Thompson. “I think every day can be a day of reflection. One way that we can honor the lives that were lost and those who ran toward danger is to just live our lives and be the best you can be.”
U.S. ARMY RESERVE
DEPT. OF DEFENSE
U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY
BEST WARRIOR COMPETITION