CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea - Service members, family and civilians participated in the 9/11 Memorial Ruck March hosted by the 304th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade, Sep. 11-12. The 24-hour ruck march was comprised of a 9.11-mile route around Camp Humphreys in remembrance of the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and the heroes who gave their lives in defense of our nation.
Teams and individuals began the ruck march at various times throughout the two days to allow plenty of room for participants and post traffic.
Col. Scott W. Mueller, U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys commander, originally from Glenview, Illinois, addressed participants during the opening ceremony about the topic of reflection, giving remembrance to the tragic day on 9/11 and the importance of continuing to honor Patriot Day.
"The Army is built on tradition," said Mueller. "We need to understand the nature of those events that set us on the course of history that we have found ourselves on the last 17-years."
For U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, Coast Guard, civilians and military families, 9/11 carries many meanings. Participants were encouraged to never forget the lives that were lost.
"I want you to remember all the sacrifices, the wounded warriors, those who came before you and remember why we wear this uniform, why we are ready and why we are always ready to fight tonight," said Mueller.
The guest speaker for the opening ceremony was Brig. Gen. David Wilson, director of logistics for U.S. Forces Korea and native of Charleston, South Carolina.
"On September 11th, we recall the true spirit of our nation following these heinous acts and we resolve to enshrine the enduring compassion and love of our people forever in the hearts of our countrymen," said Wilson. "Patriot Day is not just about remembrance; it is also about dedicating the day to extraordinary Americans who protected our freedoms in the past, to those who protect it today, and to those who will protect us in the future."
Wilson recognized the commitment of service members, past and present.
"Like the heroes before you, today you are all part of a new generation of men and women who are on the front lines fighting for freedom," said Wilson. "Your determination, your courage and sacrifice, are laying the foundation for a more secure and peaceful world," he added.
The peninsula-wide event had a large turnout of people who offered support, participated and even competed in the 9.11-mile ruck.
"For us, it's a good opportunity to be out here because 9/11 affected the role of the military in the world," said 1st Lt. James Reed, infantry officer assigned to 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team (Rotational), 3rd Infantry Division. "It's a time for us to honor those heroes who were affected by 9/11 and still show the unification that we have as a country and our continued support."
Reed, who is from East Islip, New York, said that he was in 2nd Grade on Sept. 11, 2001.
"I was about 45-minutes outside the city, so in my immediate community, I had a lot of peers who had mothers and fathers that were in New York City," said Reed. "I was able to feel that strong community pull right after 9/11."
Sgt. First Class Reginald Williams, the Brigade Aviation Maintenance Non-commissioned Officer in Charge for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2nd Infantry ROK-U.S. Combined Division, was a Soldier in route to Camp Paige, Korea from Fort Hood, Texas when it was confirmed that two airplanes hit the World Trade Center.
"September 11th united the country and united us in our heart and mind to what it actually means to truly be an American, what it actually means to be a citizen of the United States," said Williams.
Williams, originally from Amite, Louisiana, said the events of September 11, 2001 brought a deeper meaning to his position as a Soldier.
"The way this significantly affected me is that I had an understanding that when we train, we train to fight," said Williams. "This is the fight that we are bringing, and because of that we are the fiercest military in the world."
"On 9/11, I was a junior in high school in my U.S. government class," said Sgt. 1st Class Terrance Widmer, native of Streator, Illinois and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist, 2ID/RUCD.
Widmer recalls how the events of 9/11 opened his eyes to politics; what was going on with the war; and the current theater at that time.
"I did reflect back on 9/11 during the ruck march and my first thought was how long it has been since that day," said Widmer. "I think that we forget and slowly teeter off about our concern for that day and 9/11 is a great time to come back and do an event like this to remind everybody that hey, it wasn't that long ago and we are still fighting this battle, we will have these issues and it's a time for reflection."