By Ms. Lacey Justinger (USAG Hawaii)September 18, 2008
The rain-soaked parking lot of Stafford Dining Facility on Sept. 11 might have caused some concern for the Soldiers arriving for lunch.
The front entrance was blocked off with multiple sports utility vehicles and cars advertising the El Paso County Sheriffs Office, El Paso Police Department, Department of Homeland Security and the El Paso Fire Department along with an ambulance and a fire department ladder truck.
"To me it was important to acknowledge it wasn't just the military that was affected by 9/11," said Warrant Officer Markeith Spell, a food service advisor with 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. "We wanted to show our gratitude for what emergency personnel do everyday and they wanted to show their gratitude for Soldiers and what we do for the whole United States."
Local support services were invited to a special luncheon that joined Soldiers and civilians to remember and pay tribute to fallen Soldiers and rescue personnel such as police officers, fire fighters and paramedics.
"We cannot forget the sacrifices our service members and security personnel; firefighters, policemen, border patrol and all emergency services personnel, make each and everyday," said Brigadier General Robert Woods with 32nd AAMDC. "I can tell you in an unclassified way that the dedication and commitment of Americans has prevented other attacks from occurring."
Fire and ambulance crews felt so strongly about honoring the remembrance that they coordinated with various stations in order to attend the event, through the middle of their shift change.
"Those that give the ultimate sacrifice will always set the bar high and energize the mission for the rest of us," said Fire Inspector John Concha. He added that he didn't feel the civil emergency services deserved the special recognition from the Soldiers. "We should be celebrating them; the troops, Army and service members. So, we celebrated together."
"It's an honor to be able to participate in an important event such as this," said Douglas Mosier who represented the Department of Homeland Security. "It's important we find a way to remember Sept. 11."
In the middle of the lunch rush, the entire dining facility stood silent and still as somber images flickered on the television screens.
"We're here to remember the victims ... and those who continue to fight for our freedom," said Command Sgt. Maj. Jerome Wiggins, 1-43 ADA, 11th Brigade. "We will long remember the heroes that emerged from that terrible attack."