FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Fort Leonard Wood senior leaders and chaplains paused this morning to pray for and remember the victims and heroes of 9/11.
According to U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Walter Marshall, the ceremony provided a chance to help everyone “remember and understand that truth, justice and our American way of life must be defended, and we must always be vigilant and protective.”
“We pause to remember the 2001 terror attack on our United States of America,” he said. “We pause to remember the fallen; the first responders, who gave their lives for others — the family members of the fallen.”
After a performance of Amazing Grace by Vikki Carriger, a musician from the Religious Support Office, 3rd Chemical Brigade Chaplain (Maj.) Jeremie Vore offered a prayer for the fallen 9/11 first responders.
“The single-most deadly day in our nation’s history for both fire fighters and for law enforcement officers — the numbers both stagger and also do not capture the full weight of the sacrifice represented by so many lives,” Vore said. “For the searing heat of the bravery embedded in the heart of each fire fighter, to run into the calamity and up the stairs to their courageous sacrifice, I humbly give you thanks. For the unimaginable boldness of police officers, fire patrol and court officers, and emergency medical technicians, to be drawn toward towers groaning under the threat of collapse, whether called there by dispatch or dispatched there by their own innate sense of duty, only never to emerge and respond to another call, I cry out to you in grief and gratitude for not just their service and not just their sacrifice, but for their character that brought their service to a moment of sacrifice.
“Standing here today, two decades from our darkest moment, I am reminded of how the valor of those who gave their lives to save the lives of others shown as the brightest of beacons amidst the dust and the fumes,” he continued.
Col. Jeff Paine, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, recalled the story of Rick Rescorla, “one of the heroes who gave his life on that day 20 years ago.”
“Rescorla, in so many ways, embodied everything about being an American,” Paine said. “He was an immigrant to our nation, a Soldier and a leader who deeply loved his people.”
Rescorla was born in Cornwall, in southwestern Britain, in 1939, Paine said. He served in the British Army, and as a police officer in the British colony of Rhodesia. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1963, enlisted in the Army, and was commissioned as an infantry officer. He served in Vietnam, as a platoon leader during the Battle of Ia Drang, in 1965, and was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry.
“He was a brave man that led his Soldiers well, out of love for them and their wellbeing,” Paine said. “In 2001, Rescorla — now retired from the Army — served as the chief of corporate security for Morgan Stanley in their world headquarters in New York City’s World Trade Center. As the airplanes slammed into the two towers, Rescorla immediately sprang into action, organizing employees to evacuate them to safety. He led nearly 2,700 people to safety that day, and then he turned around and headed back into the building to get more. As he was doing this, Rescorla called his wife to tell her what was happening. He told her, ‘Stop crying. I have to get these people out.’ His last known location was on the tenth floor of the South Tower, heading up to find more people when the tower collapsed. His remains were never found. Rick Rescorla’s story is just one of the countless acts of heroism and courage on that day. On the memorial in his birthplace in Cornwall, the inscription reads, from the Gospel of John, Chapter 15, Verse 13, ‘Greater love has no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends.’”
Paine also spoke on the “normal citizens” who showed valor on 9/11 aboard United Flight 93.
“After airplanes struck both the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, military and Federal Aviation Administration leaders had indicators there was a fourth aircraft involved in the attack,” Paine said. “As terrorists took over the cabin and the flight deck on United Flight 93, the passengers on board quickly realized what was happening. Many of them made what must have been the hardest phone calls to make — to their families, to tell them what was happening and what they were about to do. Those men and women on board did not stand by meekly, but acted, fighting back against their captors. Todd Beamer and the other passengers quietly put together a plan to take back control of the aircraft, and they struck back. They knew what was at stake; they knew what they were sacrificing to prevent a greater tragedy; and they knew they would not survive. As they prepared to storm the cockpit, Beamer was heard on a cell phone call saying, ‘Are you ready? Ok, let’s roll.’ The passengers of United Flight 93 were able to wrest control of the aircraft from the terrorists, but in their attack, the aircraft pitched uncontrollably and crashed into the ground near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing all on board.
“So, if hate is what changed our lives 20 years ago,” Paine continued, “how should we respond? We should respond with love, and with sacrifice. Love and sacrifice for each other; love and sacrifice for our nation — with love that transcends whatever political differences we may have and looks to what our country is and what our country can be. It is the love that Rick Rescorla showed when he reentered the World Trade Center, despite the fire and the smoke and the dust to save as many as he could. It is the sacrifice that the intrepid passengers on Flight 93 embraced, knowing they would lose their lives fighting back against their hijackers to prevent even greater tragedy. So, let us remember them. Let us draw inspiration from their memories and their brave actions; remember them by what we do; remember them by serving each other. Let us have the courage to love and the singularity of purpose to sacrifice. Are you ready? Ok, let’s roll.”