CAMP TAJI, Iraq — Silence filled the chapel amidst solemn stares and bowed heads, as those gathered prayed, remembering the events of Sept.11, 2001.
It was eight years ago, but the terrorist attacks of 9/11 on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon still resonate to the present day, as witnessed by the ongoing wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan — the anniversary of the attacks marking a bleak day in American history.
To commemorate the anniversary, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade Soldiers held a remembrance service, at the Tigris River Chapel, with troops observing a silent prayer in sequence with the times of the attacks in 2001.
Leading the service was Maj. Michael Wood, chaplain, from Long Beach Island, N.J., 1st ACB, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Division — Baghdad, who said the service was a chance to reflect on the events of that day and pray in the memory of the lives lost.
"What I want to do today is give people a chance to pause during the time between the two and a half hours of the attacks and think about it," Wood said. "Prayer and reflection is something we do in our Catholic tradition and that's what today is; silence, prayer and reflection."
For this generation, Wood said, 9/11 was their equivalent of Pearl Harbor and a moment that defined a nation.
"Our responses and what much of our infantry has done over the last seven to eight years has been a direct result of [9/11]," Wood said during the service. "Much of what [the Army] do now is part of the war on terrorism ... what we have to understand is we live in a world where bad things happen to good people."
Wood said it is easy for events such as 9/11 to shape people's lives negatively, but hoped positive things can result from simple events like the remembrance service.
"As we take time today to remember those who lost their lives that tragic day, the question we should ask is, 'Do we allow these events to shape us or do we help to make the world a better place?'" Wood said.
Wood said that is a question people can only answer themselves, but he would not be negatively influenced by 9/11 and urged others to do the same.
"I will always remain hopeful as should all of us," Wood said. "Remember those who died — those who made the great sacrifice on fighting the global war on terror."
Attending the service was Capt. Jeffrey Hamer, from Wayne, Neb., a signal officer for Headquarters Support Company, 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st ACB, who said he wanted to pay his respects to those who had their lives affected by 9/11.
"I came to remember the people that were lost and to say a prayer for those families who lost someone that day," Hamer said.
Hamer said the significance of 9/11 is still felt strongly years later.
"I still think it applies to what we do here in Iraq and it gives some of us motivation to be here today in the military," Hamer said.
Wood said we may never know the reasons why 9/11 happened, but there is always cause for optimism.
"Let's hope at some point we will be able to peacefully speak to one another," Wood said of those opposed to the U.S.
"For those first initial victims, ask yourself, 'Did they die for nothing?' If we live in fear of [terrorists], then they have won," Wood added. "If we live with hope they can never beat us."
This work, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade commemorates 9/11, by Alun Thomas, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.