BRUSSELS, Belgium - Approximately 100 people gathered under a brilliant blue sky at U.S. Army Garrison Brussels on Sept. 11 to honor the nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001.

The United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, the Honorable Howard Gutman attended as did Mayor Francis Vermeiren, the mayor of Zaventem. Firefighters from the Zaventem Fire Department and Belgian military officers also attended.

Also attending with her family was a special guest: Sara Casimes, whose first husband U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Dave Williams, died in the attack on the Pentagon. Sgt. Markita James presented Casimes with a bouquet of white roses in memory of her husband.

USAG Brussels commander Lt. Col. Francesca Ziemba and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert G. Lehtonen II presented command coins to Casimes, her husband Navy Capt. Alex Casimes and their children Sophie, Meredith, David and William.

Ziemba opened and said that Sept. 11, 2001 and the years that followed have asked Americans for the best citizenship they could offer.

"Even though we will never think of 9/11 without first thinking of the horror and tragedy, there was also valor and sacrifice," Ziemba said. "You already know the story and some of the heroes. They included first responders, ordinary citizens, and service members."

Ziemba praised the military and civilian first responders who respond to emergencies without regard for their own safety.

"It takes a very special person to run toward an emergency situation full of danger, when everyone else is running away. I cannot begin to express my respect and gratitude to them," she said.

Ziemba also praised and thanked the civilians who did the extraordinary on 9/11 and after.
"Adversity revealed their character and they taught an awful lot to those of us who like to think of ourselves as being in the business of selfless service," Ziemba said.

Ziemba concluded with special thanks to the service members who have served and serve now in Afghanistan and Iraq, nine years after the 9/11 attacks.

"They volunteered, to make a difference, to be part of something larger than themselves and to be a better person and citizen. And they're doing that for us, so that we will be safe and free. So today we remember and thank them as well."

Gutman spoke next and said the victims at the World Trade Center were normal people whose only fault was boarding a particular plane or going to work on Sept. 11.

"We honor them all. We honor their parents who lost children; we honor their children who lost parents. We honor them all including victims of terror anywhere in the world including right here in Europe," Gutman said.

Gutman praised the service members and civilians who died in the Pentagon attack.

"And on Sept. 11 we dearly honor those who lost their lives because they chose to serve their country. Men and women who office building was not a tower of trade in New York but a Pentagon of protection for us all near Washington, D.C."

Gutman said that as the years have passed Sept. 11 is not just about the lives lost but a style of life that has become more difficult to hold onto.

It is a "...a style of life that emphasizes individual liberty and privacy as well as collective security; a style of life that gives people the benefit of the doubt first and asks questions later, a style of life that uniformly celebrates our religious diversity and accepts religious differences with tolerance and even with admiration."

Finally, Gutman said, Sept. 11 is about those who serve their country at home and abroad, in the military, the State Department and other agencies; they are the people preventing another Sept. 11.

"Tell them that you're making the planet safer for our children, tell them that you're working to preserve a lifestyle of understanding and compassion well worth hanging onto because those are our missions daily, those are our duty and those who are buried this day deserve no less, Gutman said."

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