WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Wright-Patterson Air Force Base commemorated the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in a wreath-laying ceremony Sept. 10 in front of Fire Station One.
A small gathering of firefighters and explosive ordnance disposal technicians were able to attend the ceremony in person. It was streamed for the rest of the Wright-Patt community.
Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, spoke of the impact the events of Sept. 11, 2001, had on Americans.
“It was a day that we were struck with agony, with pain, with a sense of defeat, but also a day where we rose to a challenge, where we had heroes responding each and every second,” he said. “Running to that fight, putting their lives in danger, to try and save lives. To protect, defend, to do those things that we expect those heroes to do. To do those things that they were trained to do. To respond in the moment of tragedy.”
Miller recalled how, through the pain the nation felt, the country was able to come together following the attack.
“Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones in the events of 9/11,” he said. “But we have this swell of pride also for those first responders who put their lives on the line to protect others. We also swell with pride for the immediate actions of our nation, as we came together to both deal with this tragedy and go on the offensive.”
Just a month later in October 2001, the world saw the start of Operation Enduring Freedom when the United States and NATO took the fight to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
In his remarks, Miller acknowledged the recent withdrawal from Afghanistan and how some are now asking if 20 years of war mattered.
“I would argue every single thing that we did was worth it. Who knows what events did not happen because of the actions that were taken from 9/11 forward?” Miller said. “What we do know is we made a better life for Afghan citizens during that period of time. Little girls (were) able to go to school, off to college and improve their lives.
“Preventing events from happening, because of the response to 9/11, was a unifying moment where we came together.”
The passing of 20 years means there are now military members and first responders who were not yet born on that tragic day. Though they did not experience it firsthand, Miller said they are still inspired by the events.
“They hear the stories from their parents. They hear the stories about the loved ones that they’ve lost. The sacrifices that our first responders and service members have made from that day forward,” the colonel said.
“And they want to be a part of that. They recognize that calling, that pull, to serve, to protect, to defend, to take care of you.”
After Miller’s remarks, Wright-Patterson AFB Fire Chief Jacob King and Lt. Col. Kristin Schatz, 88th Security Forces Squadron commander, laid a wreath with the words “Never Forget” inscribed across it. Then Airman 1st Class James Nufer, Air Force Band of Flight trumpeter, played the mournful notes of taps.
Following the ceremony, King spoke of the tribute’s significance.
“It’s important to honor all the lives that were lost 20 years ago—the 343 firemen, and countless number of police,” King said. “But also, the countless number of lives that have been given, in our pursuit of stopping additional terrorist events happening, and with our troops around the globe—as well as those in Afghanistan. I’m thankful for the sacrifices that all the families have made that have lost loved ones in this 20-year period.”
Video of the event is available at: 9/11 Ceremony.