Fort Stewart community commemorates 9/11
September 15, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Like many Americans, Command Sgt. Maj. James E. Ervin said he vividly remembers the day he learned of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Ervin, for Fort Stewart, said he was serving as a first sergeant with the Third Infantry Division at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, when he heard the news of what was first thought to be an accident.
When it was reported that the planes that flew into the twin towers in New York City represented a terrorist attack on American soil, Command Sgt. Maj. Ervin said he gathered his troops to give them the awful news and invited his unit's chaplain to say a prayer.
Command Sgt. Maj. Ervin shared his memories of that day, during Fort Stewart's annual America Supports You Freedom Walk. The event, which is held annually in more than 300 communities in all 50 states since it began in 2005, commemorates 9/11 and honors members of the armed forces; local police, fire, emergency medical services and other first responders, veterans, scouting and reserve officer training corps cadets.
The post's walk began on Cottrell Field, where Col. Kevin W. Milton, garrison commander and local government officials spoke to the Fort Stewart community about the importance of remembering America's most fateful day in recent history.
Law enforcement officials and firefighters from Hinesville and the surrounding communities staged vehicles along 6th Street at the walk's endpoint so attendees could personally thank the public servants who keep them safe.
Dennis P. Fitzgerald, chief of the Riceboro Fire Department, said it was a tremendous honor to participate in Fort Stewart's event. The fire chief, a native of upstate New York, said he knew many of the firefighters in New York City who responded during the aftermath of the attack.
"Never forget what America stands for and what debt has been paid to keep it … where it is now," Fitzgerald said. "The price of freedom is tremendous."
As the Sept. 9 event came to a close, Command Sgt. Maj. Ervin reflected on the community gathering.
"When I think about what we went through at that time and what we have been through since then it just means so much to me to see the Family Members and the Soldiers all out here together saying that we won't quit--our nation is still at war, we will defend our soil, we will defend our ideals and we will defend our country," Command Sgt. Maj. Ervin said. "But, in doing so, we will also take care of each other."
"I think that's what the spirit out here today ... displays," Command Sgt. Maj. Ervin continued. "We're all in this together, regardless of race, creed, color [or] gender."
"We all have to... march in the same direction and [speak] with the same voice in order for us to get back to where we were before 9/11," Command Sgt. Maj.Ervin concluded.