Ceremony honors 9/11 fallen

By Rick Emert, Fort Carson Public Affairs OfficeSeptember 11, 2023

Ceremony honors 9/11 fallen
1 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – FORT CARSON, Colo. — Leaders from the 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson and the local community laid wreaths at the Mountain Post 9/11 Memorial outside Gate 1 during a Sept. 11, 2023, ceremony to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the terrorist attacks. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Clara Harty) VIEW ORIGINAL
Ceremony honors 9/11 fallen
2 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – FORT CARSON, Colo. — Maj. Gen. David Doyle, right, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, and 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson Command Sgt. Maj. Alex Kupratty, visit with Don Addy, Fort Carson Good Neighbor and the force behind getting the World Trade Center remnant for the 9/11 Memorial outside Gate 1, during a 9/11 ceremony on Fort Carson, Colorado, Sept. 11, 2023. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Clara Harty) VIEW ORIGINAL
Ceremony honors 9/11 fallen
3 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – FORT CARSON, Colo. — Col. Buddy Ferris, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson deputy commanding officer for maneuver, delivers opening remarks during the 9/11 remembrance ceremony outside Gate 1 Sept. 11, 2023. (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Taylor Scott Ellison) VIEW ORIGINAL
Ceremony honors 9/11 fallen
4 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – FORT CARSON, Colo. — Capt. Mark Anderson, a bagpiper with Fort Carson Fire Department, plays Amazing Grace during a 9/11 Ceremony on Fort Carson, Colorado, Sept. 11, 2023. Three wreaths were placed at the base of the memorial to honor those who lost their lives at the Pentagon, in New York City, and in Shanksville, Penn., on Sept. 11, 2001. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Clara Harty) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CARSON, Colo. — Standing near a memorial made with a remnant of the World Trade Center outside Fort Carson’s Gate 1, Mountain Post and community members commemorated the 22nd anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In remembrance of all those who responded to and were tragically killed on that fateful day, three wreaths were laid during the ceremony. The wreaths are in honor of the lives lost at the World Trade Center in New York City; the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia; and in the field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In all, nearly 3,000 lives were lost in the attacks.

The Pentagon wreath was laid by Maj. Gen. David Doyle, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson; retired Air Force Gen. John Hyten, former vice chairman to the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Command Sgt. Maj. Alex Kupratty, senior enlisted adviser, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson. The World Trade Center wreath was laid by Chief Adrian Vasquez, Colorado Springs Police Department chief of police; Chief Randy Royal, Colorado Springs Fire Department, fire chief; and Undersheriff Jeff Kramer, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. The Shanksville, Pennsylvania, wreath was laid by Colorado Springs Mayor Yemi Mobolade; retired Command Sgt. Maj. Terrance McWilliams, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army; and retired Lt. Gen. Ed Anderson, former deputy commander at U.S. Northern Command and vice commander of U.S. Element, North American Aerospace Defense Command.

“Our challenge today is that we never forget those who perished, but also to remember how we responded — how we came together as a community and a country,” said Col. Buddy Ferris, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson deputy commanding officer for maneuver. “We are a nation that can be greater than we imagine. Today we remember more than just the attacks themselves. We honor the courage of ordinary Americans who are capable of extraordinary acts when challenged.”

While the attacks showed the heroism of first responders and courage of young men and women who decided to join the military to protect from another attack, it also led to a change in everyday life.

“Across America, complete strangers became concerned neighbors, willing to put aside differences to care and support one another at a time of grief. America stood as one nation in resolute and unwavering defiance of those terrorists who tried to break our spirit,” Ferris said. “What those terrorists did not understand, nor could they ever, was that this would serve as a reminder that freedom is not free. And from the cauldron emerged a nation in a way that had not occurred in generations. Americans felt compelled to join something bigger than themselves. A call to service rang out. Many people decided to become firefighters, police officers, Soldiers, Marines and Airmen. America emerged from hardship a unified nation, ready to face challenges in the road ahead. Sept. 11 defined a generation of service members. To this day they are still inspired to honor the courage of 9/11’s heroes and remain ready to face whatever challenges lie ahead.”

Hyten was the keynote speaker for the ceremony. At the time of the attacks, he was stationed at the Pentagon. On a very rare occasion, he drove his car to the Pentagon on Sept. 11 because he had an offsite meeting for colonels working in the operations section. His normal transportation to work each day was the bus or subway, but there was no public transport that went near where their meeting was, he said.

“When I left (home), all my wife and kids knew was I took the car. They didn’t know when that meeting was; they didn’t know where that meeting was. The meeting turned out to be outside the Pentagon at 8:30 in the morning,” Hyten said. “About 15 minutes after the meeting started, the world changed for all of us. We got news that one of the World Trade Center towers was on fire. We didn’t know anything else. We went and found a television. We saw the tower on fire but didn’t know what happened. It looked like a plane had a crashed into it.”

As the colonels talked about what they could do, they saw the second airplane hit the other tower.

“That’s when we knew we were under attack,” Hyten said. “Then we saw on television the Pentagon was attacked. This is where our friends, all of our comrades, all of our teammates worked every day, and now we’re trying to figure out what to do. It was the one of those strange times where you’re away from the Pentagon and you wish you were there to take care of your folks, take care of your Soldiers, take care of your Airmen. But you couldn’t.”

He tried to contact his wife to let her know he was OK, but there was too much telephone traffic, and no one could get through. The exit for the parking lot was also blocked off by first responders and emergency medical personnel, so no one could leave with their car.

“People were just walking from the Pentagon out and standing on I-395 looking for a ride if people would just pull over. They took people all over Northern Virginia and Maryland and D.C. to get them home, and it took a long time. I finally get home and walk in, and my wife is not there yet. She was gone to the school to make sure the kids were OK. Finally, she comes home, and I will never forget the look on her face. It was a look of relief and tears and what is going on in the world?”

Hyten said he is confident in the security of United States.

“Sadly, we live in a world today where terrorism still exists. We must continue to be vigilant against that threat. Our job is to deter that threat from attacking our country. But we have to be ready to respond if attacks do occur,” Hyten said “We live in a very dangerous world right now, significant threat to our nation. … I remain confident in our national security, primarily because men and women of this country proudly wear the cloth of our nation and swear it is important to defend our Constitution against all enemies. When called upon, I know you will answer the call.”