FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Fort Leonard Wood community members took time to remember the 2,977 individuals killed on 9/11 during a remembrance ceremony held Tuesday morning on the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Plaza.
After a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. — the time the first plane hit the World Trade Center — one of the guest speakers, Chaplain (Maj.) James Collins, from the 43rd Adjutant General Battalion, shared his experience.
Collins started by sharing his thoughts on that day prior to the attacks.
“September 11th, 2001, was one of the most beautiful mornings I can remember, somewhat like today,” he said. “It was three days before my birthday, and there was not a cloud in the sky, and the air was cool and clear.”
That would soon change.
Collins said an initial radio report stated a small plane had hit one of the twin towers in Manhattan, about 10 miles from St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers, New York, where he was a second-year seminary student.
As Collins — and most of the world would soon find out — that was not the case. The faculty provided a large television, so the students could watch what was happening downtown.
“I saw one of the tremendous towers crumble to the ground,” he recalled. “The seminarians, faculty and staff just stood there in silence, shock and disbelief. (We were) instructed to go to the main chapel and pray. I felt frustrated, angry and frightened. I wanted to go downtown because I knew many who worked in that area, in the buildings and at the police and fire departments from before I entered the seminary.”
Guest speaker Rick Harne, a retired first sergeant and the Military Police Regimental Association executive director, shared his experiences as a Soldier working at the Pentagon that day and offered some lessons he took away from the attack.
“Sometimes, you never know what you have until it’s gone,” he said. “Don’t ever take freedom or what we share as a nation for granted. We’re not always going to agree, and we’re not always going to see eye to eye, but we’re all professionals and will always do the best we can to defend this nation. So, I ask you today, don’t ever let anyone forget September 11th.”