By Eric Pilgrim | Fort Knox NewsSeptember 11, 2019
FORT KNOX, Kentucky -- Several hundred members of the greater Fort Knox community joined together in front of U.S. Army Cadet Command headquarters Sept. 11 to be part of the post's annual Patriot Day ceremony, which honors those who lost their lives on the same day in 2001.
Among those in attendance were firefighters, police officers, Soldiers, civilians and school children.
The first address was given by Fort Knox Middle High School Senior Liam Kaune, who reflected on the realization that though he wasn't born until after 9/11, the legacy of selfless service remains intact.
"I wasn't alive during 9/11. I can't tell you what you feel or what everyone else feels who was alive," said Kaune. "I just wanted to give my perspective, to try and share that -- and that's where I started."
He said a visit to the U.S. Coast Guard's summer boot camp this year became the inspiration for the speech: "Honor and duty, that's what really matters."
Major Gen. John Evans, senior commander of the installation, paused at times during his emotional address.
"That day, planes took off bound for cities across our country like they do every morning, and in the blink of an eye 2,977 lives were taken in a cowardly act of terrorism," said Evans. "American men, women and children lost their lives, but so too did the citizens of 90 other countries."
Evans recalled the 343 firefighters and 71 police officers who died trying to save lives in New York City. He also reflected on a fellow general officer who lost his life later that morning.
The Army's G-1, Lt. Gen. Tim Maude, had been at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, visiting with the men and women of the Combined Arms Center and other units on post and was scheduled to return to the Pentagon sometime later in the day on Sept. 11, but he decided to drive back the night prior to attend a morning meeting.
Evans explained that the namesake for the U.S. Army Human Resource Command headquarters building here was eager to be with his family as well as members of his staff.
"He was sitting in that meeting -- Tuesday morning at 9:37 a.m. when Flight 77 struck the Pentagon," said Evans -- "with 59 innocent passengers on board, killing an additional 125 military and civilian personnel in the building."
People stood quietly as Firefighter Shannon Bailey rang the ceremonial fire station bell for those who had lost their lives at the World Trade Centers in New York City, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania on 9/11.
Known as the striking of the four fives, a fire bell is rung five times, repeated four times, to signify a firefighter has died in the line of duty. For Patriot Day, the four strikes of five signaled the death of those lost at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, Flight 93 and first responders lost that day the hundreds who have died since.
The ceremony included music by members of the 100th Army Band, acapella numbers by the Fort Knox Middle High School Choir, and the posting and retiring of the colors by students from the Middle High School's Junior ROTC organization. Soldiers from 19th Engineer Battalion delivered the 21-gun salute, and Chaplain (Col.) James Boulware, the Fort Knox Garrison chaplain, delivered the invocation.
The ceremony affected some on a personal level. Benjamin Lomas, a Fort Knox Fire inspector, said he personally knew three men who died in New York City on that day.
"Two were firemen and one worked for the Port Authority," said Lomas. "I've been around the fire service my whole life and these were men I grew up around."
Lomas said he was in the Air Force as a firefighter and combat medic at Holloman Air Force Base in southern New Mexico the day he found out about the 9/11 attacks.
"This day is the day that changed my entire life," he said.
The Air Force later sent Lomas on several deployments before he retired. He has been at Fort Knox for the past two years.
Another person at the ceremony who remembered 9/11 was Kentucky Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton. She attended the ceremony and reflected afterward about working in Syracuse, New York when she got word from her husband that an airplane had slammed into the northeast fact of the North Tower.
"I didn't hear anything on the news so I called him back and said, 'Are you sure? Maybe they're filming a movie; maybe you heard wrong,'" said Hampton.
She traveled on to a scheduled sales meeting and ended up listening with her client at the news on the radio, even as the towers fell.
"It was so huge to know we had been attacked on our own soil and in two cities," said Hampton. "When I heard they had attacked the Pentagon, my heart sank because that airspace is supposed to be protected. As a veteran, I was ready to do whatever they needed me to do."
She said she is grateful to be part of helping shape America's future.
"My heart goes out to the first responders who rushed into danger, and it goes out to those who were trapped and jumped," Hampton said. "America changed after 9/11, but our spirt remains indomitable."
Evans said the day is about holding dear to the memory of those laid down their lives that day to save others, and those since who continue to do so.
"When Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center with 92 people aboard, a chain of events occurred that changed all of our lives forever," said Evans. "Foreign terrorists came on our soil, and used our resources against us, in an attempt to destroy our free and democratic society."
Evans concluded by reciting the third verse of Katherine Lee Bates' hymn "America the Beautiful," and delivering a warning to future potential terrorists.
"Let our enemies [know] that the sacrifices of these great patriots were not in vain, and the gift that they laid at the altar of our freedom was not poorly spent," said Evans. "Let our enemies remember that America can be forgiving, America can be gracious, America can be merciful, but America does not forget.
"We will never forget."