Forts McPherson,Gillem honor fallen at Patriot Day ceremonies
September 21, 2009
- Patriot Day
"We gather here today to remember and honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and to commemorate the eighth annual observation of Patriot Day," said Maj. Gen. Dean Sienko, commander, 3rd Medical Command Deployment Support at the Fort Gillem Patriot Day Ceremony Sept. 11.
With those words, Sienko addressed those who took time to remember the sacrifices made eight years earlier on Sept. 11, 2001, and the current sacrifices stemming from that tragedy.
"Let this day always be a reminder to our fellow Americans and the world (of) why we fight in freedom's cause and why we must fight and win this war on terrorism," he said.
Although some focus was on remembering the past, the remembrance also opened eyes to the blessings that have been overlooked.
"Today, we remember all the blessings we have as a nation," Sienko said.
Chief among those blessings is our God-given right to freedom and liberty, said Chap. (Lt. Col.) Alan Pomaville, deputy command chaplain, 3rd MDSC, adding that these rights are protected by brave men and women in the armed forces. In celebrating these rights, people need to remember the men and women of today who are fighting against tyranny, said Pomaville.
"I think it is very important to remember those who gave their lives for freedom, (and) honor those who gave sacrifices like our wounded warriors and those still serving," he said.
One of the guests in attendance has made it his calling to honor those serving today, and brought some inspiration and a special guest to the ceremony.
Jeff Hilliard, president of Operation Worship, works through his organization to provide Bibles to servicemembers and bring Christian artists to perform and enhance morale.
Hilliard said Operation Worship began 10 years ago when he heard about Christian chaplains having difficulty providing enough Bibles during field services.
To fill the need, Hilliard started his bible ministry to provide Bibles for servicemembers overseas. Currently, four of the five branches of the Armed Forces have a version of their service, with a Coast Guard version due out next year.
"Every Bible is signed by an American who writes some encouragement inside," Hilliard said, noting last year that 225,000 Bibles were shipped by his organization.
Pomaville met Hilliard while serving at the Pentagon. Noting Hilliard's success at motivating Soldiers at Fort Belvoir, Va. and Pentagon events, he worked, along with support from the leadership of 3rd MDSC, the U.S. Army Garrison Chapel, the First Army Chaplain's Office and the Chief of Chaplains Office, to bring Hilliard to the ceremony.
In turn, Hilliard brought Christian musical artist Bethany Dillon, who performed at the event and afterward in concert.
"Music brings feelings of comfort," Sienko said before presenting the band with a flag flown over the Pentagon.
Sienko mentioned the staff of the Pentagon when speaking of current operations.
"For those in the Pentagon, their hard work helped build the armed forces that we have today and paved the way for this important fight. Our success on this war on terrorism wouldn't have been possible without the sacrifices they have made before Sept. 11."
Sienko said although future success will require more sacrifices and the road may be "a long, hard struggle requiring our patience, our commitment and our will," the Army has an even longer history of patriotism and willingness to fight for liberty and freedom.
"While the occasion is still relatively new, the concept is as old as our republic's founding ideals and the belief we cherish in our heart that freedom will triumph over tyranny," he explained.
"(A patriot is someone) who loves his land, prizes its principles and cherishes its creed. A patriot so reveres the ideals of his home country that he is willing to lay down his life to ensure that those ideals endure," Sienko said.
"As the rest of the nation remembers, let us recommit ourselves to their cause and to our mission: the triumph of freedom over tyranny."