Central Command Marks Anniversary of War on Terrorism
By Staff Sgt. Sonny Cohrs, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Oct. 7, 2002 More than 500 service members gathered here today to mark the one-year anniversary of military operations in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Army Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. Central Command, offered his thanks and admiration for the men and women of the U.S. military, the 42 nations represented in CENTCOM's coalition force, and the American people.
Peggy Conners proudly waves the American flag during a ceremony Oct. 7, 2002, at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., commemorating the one-year anniversary of Operation Enduring Freedom and military operations in the war on terrorism. Photo by Staff Sgt. Norma J. Martinez, USAF.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Franks said America is in debt to those who have joined to stand in the face of evil and guarantee a future for the civilized world. Together, these forces will "stand in the face of terror with resolve and commitment, representing the will of the nation and the will of our people," he said.
U.S. and coalition forces initiated a military campaign on Oct. 7, 2001, against terrorist networks in Afghanistan, a country sponsored by terrorists.
One year later, a democratically elected government stands in Afghanistan's capital city of Kabul. Children go to school, and women and children receive medical attention. Al Qaeda no longer trains terrorists there, Franks said.
"I believe history will reflect that in this one year … truly remarkable men and women have done a truly remarkable job," the general noted. "We'll be there, you and I, until the last shot is fired in the global war on terrorism. Much remains to be done; much has been done."
Since the beginning of the campaign, 41 U.S. service members have been killed. "(It) would not have been possible without the commitment of men and women standing in harm's way, a number of whom have lost their lives," Franks said. "We mourn their loss; we celebrate their contributions today, one year after the initiation of hostilities. I could not be more proud."
However, the war on terrorism is far from over. "We started, and we'll stay with it," Franks said. "Where it goes, we don't know. How long it goes, we don't know. Where it will lead, we do know that is to victory."
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld offered a taped message for the ceremony, thanking everyone involved with the operations.
"When terrorists struck our country and killed thousands of innocent men, women and children, the enemy hoped our country would retreat in fear from a dangerous world," he said. "With the help of our coalition and allies, the Taliban regime has been ousted, the terrorist training camps destroyed, al Qaeda has been put on the run, the people of Afghanistan liberated and, in addition, you have delivered countless pounds of food, medicine, school supplies and toys to the Afghan people. And that nation now has a chance for peace, freedom and progress."
Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, who also attended the ceremony, offered his appreciation for everyone involved in the military operations and the nation's response to the terrorist attacks.
"America and the Free World have responded," Nelson said. "I come here on behalf of a grateful nation to tell our men and women in uniform, and to tell our partners, our allies and the other nations, how grateful we are. By your perseverance, by your skill, by your expertise, by your devotion and dedication, we will prevail."
The work over the preceding year has been successful because of the men and women serving in Afghanistan and around the world, Franks said. He attributed the success to the leadership -- from the generals and colonels to the sergeants and civilians.
"We're blessed to live in a democratic country," Franks said. "We're blessed by our depth of resolve and commitment to liberty, to a way of life that has been our heritage and liberty and a way of life which I assure you we'll see the next 200 years."
(Staff Sgt. Sonny Cohrs is assigned to the 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs Office, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.)