BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan --
Servicemembers from U.S. and coalition partners, who are deployed to Afghanistan, gathered in the memorial courtyard on Bagram Airfield to reflect on 9/11 and to remember an event that forever changed the Nation’s history.
“On this day, thousands of innocent people were taken from us,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen David Lyons, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, in his speech to the servicemembers. “Sons and daughters, husbands, and wives, coworkers and friends, taken from us on what should have been -- what could have been -- a normal morning.”
“Today, we must remember all those lost, including those who selflessly entered those towers to help and to save,” he said. “We honor them all as Americans. Yet, the toll of this nefarious attack goes beyond lives lost…it was our way of life that was attacked.”
The United States of America, known throughout the world as Land of the Free, was stunned.
Seventeen years ago, the nation was shook when multiple terrorist acts occurred on U.S. soil, Sept. 11, 2001.
What started out as a regular Tuesday morning, ended in the worst extremist attack in U.S. history.
Four passenger airliners were hijacked carrying 19 al-Qaeda terrorists. Flight 11 and Flight 175 crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center. Within an hour and 42 minutes, both buildings collapsed. The third plane, Flight 77 was crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The fourth plane, Flight 93 was flown toward Washington, D.C., however crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after passengers were able to retake the plane.
The attacks took the lives of 2,977 individuals from 93 nations and injured more than 6,000 individuals. It is the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the U.S., losing more than 400 from the NYC area.
On the evening of 9/11, former President George W. Bush addressed the nation.
“Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. Today, our nation saw evil -- the very worst of human nature -- and we responded with the best of America.”
“This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time,” said Bush. “None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.”
“Seventeen years later, we still raise our hands; we are still here,” said Brig. Gen. Lyons.
The servicemembers stand in silence.
“We're here because we raised our hand to make the world a safer place for all. Americans are here, with our coalition partners, because we believe in the greater good, and recognize that, even in the face of unfathomable adversity, history is bigger than ourselves.”