Natick observes Patriot Day
September 9, 2011
Ten years after the unforgettable events of 9/11, military and civilian workers gathered Sept. 9 to observe Patriot Day at Natick Soldier Systems Center.
At 8:46 a.m., the exact time that American Airlines Flight 11 had struck the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, Natick observed a moment of silence followed by a bell tolling 11 times in memory of that tragic day.
Brigadier General John J. McGuiness, NSSC senior commander, told those gathered near the flagpole in front of Carney Hall that it was a day of remembrance and resolve.
"The events of September 11, 2001, remain indelibly etched in our consciousness," McGuiness said. "We can still see the destruction wrought by the commercial airliners as they flew into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C."
Nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children perished in those attacks.
"It was truly an immense human tragedy," McGuiness said. "The days and weeks that followed 9/11 were filled with sadness and grief over those great losses, but also began a growing sense of resolve among the American people.
"The unflinching American spirit had already been demonstrated in that Shanksville, Pennsylvania, field, where defiant passengers brought down another airliner piloted by terrorists intent on doing further damage to our nation's capital. It continued with the heroic efforts of our first responders at Ground Zero and also at the Pentagon."
That fateful day sent America into conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"The Global War on Terrorism was under way with the nation's full support, and the message was clear," McGuiness said. "America would not rest until the job was finished."
McGuiness pointed out that more than 5 million Americans had served in uniform since 9/11, 3 million of whom joined the service after that day. More than 2 million have served in war zones in the past decade.
"They willingly volunteered when the nation needed them most," McGuiness said. "Of those 2 million, more than six thousand service members have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedoms."
McGuiness asked the audience not to forget the sacrifices of America's military families.
"We can't thank the spouses and children enough for the burdens that they have borne," McGuiness said. "Their strength and courage provide examples to us all."
Those service members and families have received support at home, said McGuiness, particularly at Natick.
"You don't need to wear this uniform to serve the nation, to serve our Soldiers," McGuiness said. "It doesn't matter what you wear. You are all patriots and you are all serving this nation every, single day.
"Your tireless efforts and sense of conviction over the past 10 years have ensured that many Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen than ever before are returning to their loved ones and their friends. You are writing history every day, and your vital work must continue, because our service men and women depend on your innovation, your creativity, your ingenuity -- now more than ever before."
Much has been accomplished since 9/11, but many hardships and sacrifices lay ahead, said McGuiness.
"But America has always risen to the challenge," said McGuiness, "and we will once again.
"As you go about the important work that you do here on this special day of remembrance, please take a few moments along the way to think about the victims of 9/11, their families, and our service members, who remain in harm's way. Their sacrifices, like those before them, are the very foundation of our nation's future."