FORT POLK, La. — The COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Laura’s aftermath might have put a damper on planned proceedings for a ceremony honoring the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., but it didn’t stop the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk from paying homage to those who unselfishly sacrificed themselves for others.
Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank, commander, JRTC and Fort Polk, was keynote speaker at a 9 a.m. ceremony in the Fort Polk Main Fire Station Sept. 11 that was recorded and later posted on the JRTC and Fort Polk Facebook page. He said some might wonder why the event was held at the fire station and not Memorial Park.
“This is our JRTC and Fort Polk tribute to our first responders — firefighters, police officers and EMTs — that were the first to arrive at the World Trade Center to assist their fellow Americans following the attack,” Frank said.
Forging the Warrior Spirit
Frank said JRTC and Fort Polk’s motto — Forging the Warrior Spirit — was a fitting way to describe the heroic actions following the attack 19 years ago on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington and a farm field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In all, 2,977 people were killed in the attacks.
When police, firefighters and paramedics selflessly entered the Twin Towers they demonstrated Warrior Ethos, Frank said.
“They ran into danger to protect fellow American citizens and ensure no one was left behind,” he said. “Through the brave act of 40 passengers on Flight 93, an attack on the U.S. Capitol was averted by everyday citizens who stood up for our nation. Todd Beamer’s words ‘Let’s roll,’ became a rallying cry for hundreds of thousands of Soldiers, who have since deployed during the last 19 years of combat.”
Frank thanked Fort Polk and Central Louisiana first responders and their efforts to keep the installation’s Soldiers and Families safe.
“These police officers and firefighters place themselves in danger to provide a safe environment for Fort Polk Soldiers,” he said. “We truly appreciate sacrifices.”
While JRTC and Fort Polk has connections to past military conflicts, the granite monument in Memorial Park symbolizes America’s longest period of conflict, Frank said.
“From the fall of 2001 to operations currently conducted in theater today, our Army has been decisively engaged in operations against the enemies of the United States for the last 19 years — 15 years longer than World War II,” Frank said. “Our monument reflects the World Trade Center and Pentagon and is inscribed with the names of 96 fallen Fort Polk Soldiers.”
Frank recalled the image of President George Bush standing on a debris pile at Ground Zero beside a New York City firefighter, and his promise that those who knocked the buildings down, “will hear all of us soon.”
“Our heroic first responders would pass this fight to those of us in camouflage as our nation would defeat terrorists in multiple regions around the globe,” he said.
Remembering fallen heroes