Natick, Mass. (Sept. 12, 2012) -- Soldiers and civilians of the Natick Soldier Systems Center gathered near the flag pole to remember the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Lt. Col. Frank Sobchak, the USAG-Natick commander, was the guest speaker and looked back on that day from his vantage point, as a Soldier attending graduate school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

"In Washington that day it was utter chaos," said Sobchak. "There were many unfounded reports of attacks in Washington such as a suicide bomber attack and fire on the National Mall, a car bomb attack on the State Department and a shooting attack on the D.C. Metro system. Another Army officer and I went to the highest point on the University grounds to get a better perspective on what was happening before trying to make our way home to our families.

"From those Georgetown heights, I saw something that I could never have imagined. We looked across the Potomac River and saw the Pentagon burning," Sobchak continued. "While overlooking the Pentagon, we heard the sounds of fast movers approaching -- in this case a U.S. Air Force F-16 that had been scrambled in the response to the attacks."

Sobchak thanked the Natick Police and Fire Departments who stood in formation with the USAG-Natick police force.

"We have forged strong relationships with the State Police, [Federal Emergency Management Agency], the FBI, Homeland Security and the group of first responders who have always been there for us, the Natick Police and Fire Departments," said Sobchak. "Today, like every day, they are standing side by side with our Garrison police force. I want to especially thank the Natick Police and Fire Departments for all the work they have done with us in the past and the work we will do together in the future."

He also thanked the Natick workforce for the great work they do.

"Each one of you standing here has made a difference in the War on Terrorism," said Sobchak. "Whether it is the development of the Flame-Resistant Army Combat Uniform by NSRDEC, the medical research done by [U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine] that gives Soldiers a better understanding of how to prevent altitude sickness, the work done by team Force Provider on shelters that gives great comfort to Soldiers deployed worldwide, or the guards who man the gates we drive through each morning, you all make a difference."

He quoted retired Lt. Gen. David Valcourt in concluding his talk.

"Poor is the nation that has no heroes. Indefensible is the nation who has heroes and doesn't honor them."

Sobchak added that each person at NSSC is a hero because they devote every day to finding ways to give our armed forces the decisive edge on the battlefield.

At 8:46 a.m., a moment of silence was observed in memory of the 2,977 that were killed on Sept. 11 and the more than 6,000 Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who lost their lives in the War on Terrorism, followed by Matthew Phelps playing 'Amazing Grace' on the bagpipes.

"The attacks have forever changed our nation," said Sobchak. "It was, as some historians say, 'the end of innocence for America.'"