By Franklin Fisher, USAG Red CloudSeptember 13, 2012
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea -- The American people have demonstrated resilience and resolve in the years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a speaker at Camp Red Cloud said during a chapel service in remembrance of the traumatic events and their aftermath.
Titled "A Call to Remember!" the service began Sept. 11 at 11:30 on a sunny Tuesday and ended around noon before an audience of about 40.
In his remarks, the speaker, Lt. Col. Steven G. Finley, commander, U.S. Army Garrison Casey, first evoked the specter of those events in 2001 that have become seared in the national consciousness and are often compared to Japan's attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
"Eleven years ago, America confronted one of the darkest nights," Finley said of the events that unfolded that morning in 2001, which saw not only the attacks on the World Trade Center in Manhattan, but also on the Pentagon, and that included the crash of United Airlines Flight 77 near Shanksville, Pa.
"Mighty towers crumbled," he said. "Black smoke billowed up from the Pentagon. Airplane wreckage smoldered on the Pennsylvania field.
"Friends and neighbors, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters -- they were taken from us with heartbreaking swiftness and cruelty.
"On September 12, the day after, the nation awoke to a world in which evil was closer at hand, and uncertainty clouded our future," Finley said.
"These past 11 years have shown that America does not give in to fear," said Finley. "The rescue workers who rushed to the scene, the firefighters who charged up the stairs, the passengers who stormed the cockpit -- these patriots defined the very nature of courage…
"These past eleven years have shown America's resolve to defend its citizens and the American way of life…" he said.
"Proof of our healing has been a story of total resilience. The Pentagon is repaired, and filled with patriots working in common purpose daily. Shanksville is the scene of friendships forged between residents of that town, and the families who lost loved ones there.
"New York remains a vibrant capital of the arts and industry, fashion and commerce.
"The trade center -- where it once stood the sun now glistens off a new tower that reaches toward the sky.
"Our people still work in skyscrapers, our stadiums are filled with fans and our parks full of children playing."
The audience also heard personal recollections from two other members of the Warrior Country community, Mark Hagelin, management analyst with the U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud's Plans,
Analysis, and Integration Office, and Chaplain (Maj.) Andrew Lawrence, the 2nd Infantry Division's deputy division chaplain.
Hagelin said his brother, an attorney who "worked around the corner" from the World Trade Center, was out on a case and miles away when the attacks occurred.
"Others weren't quite so lucky," he said, noting that among high school friends of his sister-in-law was a firefighter who died "fighting to save others" when the second tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.
"I refuse to hate," said Hagelin. "Hate brings pain and intolerance."
But, he said, "I will not forget," and likened the Sept. 11 attacks to Pearl Harbor.
"The horrific vision and soundtrack of 9/11 are etched into my soul," said Hagelin. "I will never forget."
Lawrence, then a parish priest in Iowa, accompanied a group of Catholic parishioners on a pilgrimage to Rome, arriving there Sept. 11. They ended the day stunned by news of the attacks. They awoke next morning, Sept. 12, to find under their hotel room doors a letter signed by the mayor of Rome expressing condolences and goodwill to the city's American visitors.
Later that day, during a tour of St. Peter's Basilica, an American woman on vacation from her job at the Pentagon approached Lawrence, asked if he was an American, and in the course of conversation said she'd been unable to reach her co-workers after news of the attacks. She feared some of them may have been killed, she said, and asked Lawrence to pray with her, which he did.
Toward the end of Tuesday's service, during a ceremonial moment of silence, a firefighter from the Camp Red Cloud fire department, clad in his dark blue work uniform, his face expressionless, struck a brass memorial bell five times, paused, and struck another five times, at intervals, until the bell had sounded 20 times.