An American date not to be forgotten
Maj. Gen. James Milano is Fort Jackson's commanding general.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- An independent survey, conducted not that long ago, concluded that nearly half of all Americans - 49 percent to be exact - believe that Americans have forgotten the impact of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people. The poll, however, concluded that 39 percent of Americans feel the impact has not been forgotten and that 12 percent were uncertain how they felt.

I find the numbers rather disheartening, because I personally cannot envision so many respondents saying that the impact from 9/11 is something that Americans are capable of forgetting. That day was a life changer for anyone who was old enough at the time to understand it.

For the record, I believe it should be mandatory to commemorate Sept. 11, 2001. That was the consensus of Congress when our lawmakers took action following the attacks to immortalize Sept. 11 by designating it as Patriot Day, a national observance that was first marked on Sept. 11, 2002, and has been observed on each subsequent Sept. 11.

The Patriot Day proclamation is not a difficult document to understand. Its second sentence kind of spells it out: "We will not forget the events of that terrible morning nor will we forget how Americans responded in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in the skies over Pennsylvania - with heroism and selflessness; with compassion and courage; and with prayer and hope. We will always remember our collective obligation to ensure that justice is done, that freedom prevails and that the principles upon which our Nation was founded endure ..."

Let me step back and explain that the Army does not allow itself to be distracted by opinions, polls or politics. Soldiers stay focused on the missions at hand that reflect the intentions of our commander in chief, and we execute accordingly. As Soldiers, we man the front lines and protect America and its way of life. We have taken the oath to serve and protect.

That does not mean, however, that Soldiers are purely mechanical and devoid of feelings and emotions. On the contrary, the memories of the direct enemy attack on our soil only fuels our resolve to stamp out this evil.

As Soldiers, we are committed to winning the war against terror. Our objectives have not changed since Day One, although the strategy, tactics and other dynamics of the fight have been refined and refocused. We welcome the challenge of the next mission in this ongoing fight, because we know our nation is counting on us. We are well aware of what is at stake.

This weekend, we will remember the Soldiers and other military men and women who will not have a chance to attend any of our planned activities or any other gatherings because they will be executing their missions downrange. We will take note of the many successes of the Soldiers who have gone before us and the sacrifices that they have made in advancing the fight against these ultimate extremists.

We will also remember the numerous acts of civilian courage that were associated with 9/11. How could we ever forget the impact of watching those first emergency workers on the scene'

That is what makes this country so great, the ability for so many diverse people to mobilize and do what needs to be done at a time when it really counts.

This weekend, Fort Jackson invites Soldiers and civilians to come together again and mark this day. There will be events on post, to include a run and a concert. And there will be the laying of a wreath in front of post headquarters. Remember that there is no correct or incorrect way to observe 9/11. The point is never to forget it.

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Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16