Fort Bragg lights flame to honor lives lost
January 18, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - A new light shines on Fort Bragg, paying homage to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and the servicemembers who have since fallen while fighting to protect our freedom.
Leaders from across Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base came together Friday to light the flame on the new memorial located on the Main Post Parade Field near the flagpole.
For many, the ceremony was extremely personal. Sitting in the audience was Mimi Bock, who was on the 63rd floor of the south tower at the World Trade Center when the first plane hit on Sept. 11. Daniel Rodriguez, the former New York City Police Department officer known as the "singing policeman," sang "God Bless America" after the flame was lit. Many attendees clutched yellow roses. Holding the flowers were wives, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and husbands whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
"We will never forget your Family's sacrifice," said Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, commander, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, to the Gold Star Families in the audience.
The flame commemorates that sacrifice, Helmick said, honoring those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks and the 5,500 servicemembers who have died while fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The flame's cauldron is forged of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center. The monument's base is a large stone from Georgia's Currahee Mountain, the place where some of America's first paratroopers trained.
Whit Dennis, a contractor at Fort Bragg, was one of the many people in the audience. He said that he felt it was important to be a part of the event.
"I wanted to be here to show my support for our troops," said Dennis. "That's why I came."
Helmick said that the flame will remain lit until all our servicemembers come home.