By Sgt. Spencer Case, 304th Public Affairs DetachmentJune 1, 2010
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (May 31, 2010) -- More than 200 multinational troops converged in front of the Regional Command East command building here to see an I-beam segment from the World Trade Center unveiled during a Memorial Day ceremony today.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and Maj. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 82, also attended the event.
"Today is about people," McChrystal said in his keynote address. "It's about people who we have lost throughout the years and, I think just as importantly, it is about people they have left behind."
McChrystal emphasized the beam's symbolism. Once it provided structure to a building so that life could be lived inside of it. Now, in front of the Regional Command East headquarters, it would continue to provide structure in the mindset of troops.
Following McChrystal's speech, troops applauded as Scaparrotti and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas R. Capel, task force command sergeant major, removed the tarp that covered the 9-foot, 950-pound beam segment.
Residents of Breezy Point, N.Y., donated the beam through an organization called Sons and Daughters of America, Breezy Point. The city of New York had given a number of beams to the residents of Breezy Point after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 30 residents from the small neighborhood in Queens.
After the community constructed a memorial from the beams, Sons and Daughters donated three beams to the U.S. military. One is at the recently opened Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Ga., and the other is aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.
The third beam arrived here in March, based largely on the efforts of recently redeployed Maj. Stephen J. Ryan, a governance planner for Combined Joint Task Force 82 who hails from Breezy Point.
As a tribute to its arrival March 31, soldiers of the 612th Quarter Master Detachment sling-loaded the beam along with a U.S. flag from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter and flew around the installation with the beam and flag displayed.
In accordance with the wishes of Sons and Daughters, the beam will remain on loan to successive units in RC East until the last American troops withdraw from Afghanistan. The beam will then be sent to Fort Bragg, N.C.