FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Seventeen years after Newspapers across the country printed headlines that read “Hijacked Jets Destroy Twin Towers and Hit Pentagon,” the memories of that day and the days to follow are still fresh in the minds of many Americans.
This year Fort Irwin’s September 11th Remembrance Day, started as a somber walk from Army Field to the post chapel. Leading the way Fort Irwin fire fighters operating Fire Engine 152, one of three remaining ladder trucks that were present at Ground Zero that tragic September day.
U.S. Army Garrison commander, Col Seth Krummrich told the gathered crowd that New York Ladder Truck 152 remained at Ground Zero and would participate in firefighting and rescue missions for over 99 continuous days. Ladder Truck 152 was so badly damaged in the efforts that it was decommissioned and due to be scrapped when it was saved by a group former firefighters. Ladder 152 ended up in the possession of the Freedoms Flame organization who have entrusted care of the vehicle to the Fort Irwin 9/11 Memorial Foundation. The vehicle remains in the same condition that it was in 17 years ago, and represents “a living piece of living history,” Krummrich said.
Upon reaching the post chapel the community was welcomed by Fort Irwin first responders at the entrance, a moment of silence was observed, and prayers were said before the remembrance presentations commenced.
Fort Irwin Fire Chief Ray Smith gave an overview of the terror attacks of 9/11, starting with the first of the Twin Towers being hit by an airplane. “A testament to what can be achieved in a free society, vanished before our eyes”, Smith stated, as he welcomed and thanked the community for remembering the 343 Fire Fighters, and EMT personnel, 60 law enforcement officers, 25 pentagon staff, 2753 civilians, and 6829 service members who perished on September 11, 2001 and in the resulting conflicts.
Teary eyes looked on as they listened to Chief Smith and viewed a 9-11 tribute video.
In his prepared remarks, Krummrich urged attendees to pause, reflect and remember the events of that day, while sharing his personal experiences as most Americans do upon reflection of that day. He reflected on how a nation realized we do not get to pick the time and place for war. And as a member of the Special Forces he and his unit knew they would be being deployed.
Krummrich reminisced on the intense rage felt by Americans for those who attacked our freedoms, our Country, and values. And how he felt just in our cause, as he believed that he was witnessing the human spirit return after being hit hard by the events of 9/11. While watching the joy come back to the nation, Krummrich said that he knew that “our cause is just.”