By Kevin Fleming, ASC Public AffairsSeptember 11, 2015
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Navigating by the dim light of dawn, approximately 200 people planted small American flags and walked 3.25 miles here in remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Sept. 11.
The 9,084 flags, each representing a life lost, were placed in a field near the Rock Island Arsenal 9/11 Memorial across the street from Memorial Field. Exactly 2,997 people tragically lost their lives in the attacks 14 years ago, and 6,827 have died while fighting terror, 27 more since September 2014.
During the remembrance ceremony in the afternoon, Brig. Gen. Stephen Farmen, deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Sustainment Command, explained why he thinks it is important to remember the fallen in the War on Terror and thereafter. Farmen is also the commanding general for the Joint Munitions Command, and the U.S. Army Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Management Command.
"We must never forget those who have given their lives -- and we must never lose sight of the cause they died for. It is indeed sad that we have sustained such losses, but it would be sadder still if we chose to abandon the work they began," said Farmen. "To those who gave their all, we owe all that we have in return. To those who did their duty for us, we owe them a duty to finish what they began."
Farmen, who was in the Pentagon when it was hit, expressed his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives.
"Our hearts are filled with compassion for you, and we hope you find comfort in knowing that those who were lost are being remembered today and will never be forgotten in the days and years to come," he said.
Assistant Fire Chief Robert Ohms represented RIA's fire department, and Capt. Willie Snodgrass represented RIA's police department. At the start of the ceremony, both stood on the sides of the 9/11 Memorial, which is a brick representation of the Twin Towers with a Pentagon in between.
A fireman's helmet and a policeman's hat were placed on each tower of the memorial, symbolically representing the sacrifice of the 9/11 first responders.
Local Gold Star family members, Annie Cox, Teri Johnson and Brenda Luxmore, each stood with Farmen and Command Sgt. Maj. Walton Jones, command sergeant major, JMC, as they placed and dedicated a wreath at the memorial.
Gold Star families are those who have lost family members in service to the nation and who have been recognized by the Department of Defense.
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jeffrey Botsford, ASC command chaplain, gave the invocation followed by a joint services color guard with representation from Army, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard who presented the colors.
RIA Soldiers fired a 21-gun salute in honor of the fallen. Everline Barnard, Jereen Philips-Hardin and 1st Lt. Shelton Seaborn sang "The National Anthem" and "America the Beautiful".
Attendees said they enjoyed the ceremony.
"I have always been proud of this country, but when I see this, it just touches my heart," said Tom Bullock, a Vietnam veteran who lives in Davenport. "All of our services are voluntary now, and we still have the best military in the world. I'm just, so, so proud. And it hurts that we lost all those people on 9/11."