ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Aberdeen Proving Ground observed the ninth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks with a solemn ceremony honoring the lost while embracing the conventions of freedom during the 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony at Fanshaw Field Sept. 10.

Hosted by Col. Orlando W. Ortiz, APG Garrison and deputy installation commander, the program included remarks from guest speaker Brig. Gen. Leslie C. Smith, commander of the 20th Support Command (CBRNE), and Maj. Gen. Nick G. Justice, commander of APG and the U.S. Army Research,
Development and Engineering Command.

Among the hundreds in attendance, special guests included members from eight Gold Star Families who lost loved ones in the War on Terror.

Music for the program was provided by the U.S. Army Field Band brass quintet from Ft. Meade, led by Sgt. 1st Class Michael Klima and the Aberdeen High School Band led by band director Kaitlyn Wittman.

A Joint Service Color Guard of Soldiers, Marines and Airmen, led by Staff Sgt. Janese Phillips of the Joint Personal Effects Depot, presented the colors.

Installation Chaplain (Col.) Wayne Boyd, who presented the opening prayer, remarked that, "On this special day of remembrance, our hearts are heavy and our souls are distraught, yet, we maintain hope."

He encouraged listeners to remember the courage and honor of those who volunteered to fight the evil that resulted in 9/11 and prayed for the safety of all who serve the country.

"We will never forget this day, and we always pray for peace so that our deployed forces can return home to their loved ones," he said.

David Mial, chaplain, District 5 Veterans of Foreign Wars, led the Pledge of Allegiance.

The program's narrator, APG Adjutant Janet Dettwiler, welcomed guests, noting that the ceremony also honored the service members, police officers, firefighters and Department of the Army civilians currently protecting the nation.

"They protect our nation and its people so that we may never again endure another terrorist attack," she said.

Ortiz said it is critically important to remember not only those who perished on Sept. 11, 2001, but those who perished in the aftermath as the nation entered the War on Terror. He noted that
of the more than 5,000 service members lost since 9/11, 117 were from the State of Maryland.

"We are honored to have with us members of eight of these Families," he said. "They are called Gold Star Families. They have a special place in our hearts and forever are welcome here at
Aberdeen Proving Ground."

Ortiz said that while the world will never forget 9/11, a national resolve to make the world a safer place has risen out of its darkness.

"We will continue to move forward bravely to defend the American way of life," he said.

Smith said that while history looks back, legacy looks forward.

"The history of the United States is replete with moments that are etched in our consciousness," he said.

He asked listeners to close their eyes and recall where they were when they first heard about the terrorist attacks.

"As a nation, we realized that autumn day that true evil exists in our world. This war, our struggle against terrorism, is unlike any war our nation has faced during its illustrious history," Smith said.

Noting that during the near decade since the War on Terror began, the nation and its allies have sent forces into Iraq and Afghanistan, Smith said that it would not have been possible, "without
our Family members who are represented here today. We know their losses have not been in vain."

"There will continue to be sacrifices in the years to come," he said. "I need not remind this audience of the sacrifices made by our community."

He added that in the past several months, his command has lost four Soldiers.

"Their loss hurts us every day," he said. "Our duty as Americans is to never forget those Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines that we have lost in defense of our nation and to continue to honor
those who have given their lives in our country's defense.

"Never forget that history looks back, but legacy looks forward."

A Fallen Heroes Monument designed and constructed by the Visual Information Services Division, was the focal point of the Honor Ceremony that followed. Two pairs of boots, a rifle and a
helmet decorated the face of the monument. As Dettwiler read the names of those who lost their lives between September 2009 and September 2010, APG Soldiers and Marines moved forward to
place a set of ID tags on the monument. The honorees included: Army Sgt. 1st Class Bradley S. Bohle, USMC Lance Cpl. Jordan L. Chrobot, Army Sgt. Charles I. Cartwright, Army Spc. Christopher J. Coffland, Army Staff Sgt. Matthew A. Pucino, USMC Sgt. David Smith, Army Spc. Anthony A. Paci, Lt. Col. Juanita L. Warman, USMC Cpl. Jonathan D. Porto, and USMC Cpl. Kurt S. Shea.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, a firing party, composed of Soldiers from the 20th Support Command (CBRNE) and 22nd Chemical Battalion (Technical Escort), led by Sgt. 1st Class Montegue Williams, fired a 21-gun salute.

During closing remarks, Justice said that he lost close friends and companions in the Pentagon on 9/11 and that he wiped dust from the burning World Trade Centers off his car at Fort Monmouth,
N.J. He said it was important to remember the sacrifices of heroes.

"Also remember that God is blessing our nation and that includes the blessing of freedom," he said. "You should remember significant events that become the foundations of your life with friends who share the same love of life."

Regarding the various honors rendered during the ceremony, Justice said that APG honored the fallen with a 21-gun salute because it is, "the highest honor our nation can render; extended to
very few."

He said the song "Taps" has signaled to Soldiers for more than 100 years that, "they can rest. Their duty is over and they can stand down," and that ID tags are "far more valuable than a trinket."

"They are the thing that bonds us to our fellow service members and our nation."

"Thank you for joining us," he said, "so that I did not have to remember alone."

Gold Star Family members said they were touched and inspired by the ceremony.

"It was wonderful," said Michelle Murphy, mother of Army Spc. Randall K. Frederick. "Paying honor to our children is always impressive. It's a testament to the great courage that exists in those so young."

Carol Roddy, the president of Maryland Gold Star Mothers and the mother of Navy Petty Officer 2nd class David Roddy, said she was "absolutely privileged" to be in attendance. She
recalled that she was home when her husband called to tell her about the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and that she called her son, who was stationed in Japan at the time.

"He volunteered for [Explosive Ordnance Disposal] after that because he said he didn't want to be on a ship anymore," she said. David Roddy was killed while attempting to defuse an improvised
explosive device in Iraq in 2006.

Mary Jane Craig, the mother of Army Cpl. Brandon Craig, said she was gratified by the honors paid to the fallen.

"One thing [Gold Star] mothers always wonder about is if people will forget their children," she said. "It's good to know that they are remembered."

Beverly Fabri, the mother of Army Pvt. Bryan Spry, said that her son joined the Army in 2003 because of 9/11.

"The terrorist attacks had everything to do with him joining," she said. "He was glued to the TV for weeks after it. I think he just wanted to be a part of healing the country."

Gold Star Family members in attendance included the Families of: USMC Sgt. Charles I. Cartwright, Union Bridge, Md.; Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class David S. Roddy, Abingdon, Md.; Army Pvt. Charles Y. Barnett, Bel Air, Md.; Army Sgt. Ryan P. Baumann, Great Mills, Md.; Army Cpl. Brandon M. Craig, Earleville, Md.; USMC Cpl. Jennifer M. Parcell, Bel Air, Md.; Army Pvt. Bryan N. Spry, Chestertown, Md.; Army Spc. Kendall K. Frederick, Randallstown, Md.