Troops in Iraq Honor Victims of Sept. 11 Attacks
By Sgt. Brian James Anderson, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Sept. 11, 2006 Multinational Corps Iraq held a 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony at the Al Faw palace here today, reminding everyone in attendance why servicemembers stand on foreign ground today.
Members and senior leaders of Multinational Corps Iraq pause for a moment of silence during a memorial ceremony Sept. 11, 2006, at Al Faw palace, at Camp Victory, Iraq. Photo by Sgt. Joe Battle, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
On Sept. 11, 2001, America was attacked by terrorists, resulting in the death of 2,973 people.
“I will not forget the wound to our country and those who inflicted it; I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people,” President Bush said nine days later.
Currently, U.S. Forces are involved in operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, not only ensuring the safety of American soil from terrorist attacks, but also securing the freedom of millions of Iraqi and Afghan citizens.
The ceremony opened with the 76th Army Band playing the Iraqi national anthem followed by the U.S. national anthem.
Chaplain (Col.) Kenneth Brown, command chaplain of Multinational Corps Iraq, gave the invocation, followed by a summary of events read by Sgt. Maj. Ivor Watson, of the command’s combined joint staff. Then there was a moment of remembrance for those who lost their lives on the day, which for many, can never be forgotten.
Army Spc. Jose Burgos, a reservist with the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion, from Fort Dix, N.J., who was an emergency medical technician who provided care to victims of the World Trade Center attack, said it only gets harder for him as the time goes by.
“I can’t believe it was five years ago; it feels like yesterday,” he said. “It is hard to imagine. … It is hard being here, doing the (mass casualty) exercises, knowing I could be involved with something like that again.”
Burgos was one of eight soldiers directly involved in aid or support on Sept. 11, 2001, that was in attendance for today’s ceremony here.
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said the monument for the victims and the heroes from that day is being constructed now.
“The true monument for the heroes and victims of 9/11 will not be made of stone, but will be living monuments,” he said. “The 50 million people liberated from tyranny since that day. A free and prosperous Iraq will stand as the ultimate testimony to the sacrifices you are making to ensure that America remains secure from the threats posed by terrorists.”
Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, gave everyone a sense of closeness to the victims from the horrific day half a decade ago.
“They were mothers, fathers, daughters, sons and friends,” he said. “They were old, middle-aged and children. Men and women, boys and girls. They were Americans, but they were also citizens of a dozen nations.”
He went on to say that some of them were innocent bystanders, while others were rescue workers and heroes who sacrificed their lives that day to save others. Chiarelli said the terrorists didn’t realize America’s determination to seek justice when they attacked U.S. soil.
“These murderers bet that the United States and its friends would stand by and do nothing,” he said. “They bet that we would shrink from our duty and our purpose. They bet wrong.
“Over the last five years, the United States and its brave allies have waged an offensive campaign against those who hate free nations and free people,” he continued. “Let there be no doubt, we will prevail in this struggle.”
(Army Sgt. Brian James Anderson is assigned to Multinational Corps Iraq)