BASRA, Iraq – All around the nation, people commemorated today in remembrance of the great loss the United States suffered on Sept. 11, 2001. The American way of life was tragically altered forever.
Today marks the ninth year since the attack and the thousands of innocent lives perished were remembered in monumental numbers, home and overseas.
In a remembrance ceremony held at the U.S. Army base in Basra’s chapel with service members and civilians in attendance, the traditional ringing of the bell echoed, a patriotic composition sung, spiritual readings read, and a painful experience evoked, brought tears to some and some appeared to hold back.
“It’s most fitting we would pause to remember Sept. 11 and reflect on what has come since,” said Maj. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the commanding general the United States Division-South and the 1st Infantry Division.
“Days of great challenge, days of adversity and sadness,” Brooks said, “and yet, the resilience, the demonstration of the indomitable spirit that kept us moving forward, leading to where we are right now.”
Lt. Col. Timothy Mallard, a native of Lakeland, Fla., and the division chaplain for the 1st Inf. Div. said although his experiences at the Pentagon in 2001 and the subsequent three tours has taken a toll on his family and himself, he finds hope.
“Our society appears to run from pain,” Mallard said recalling the 17 days of recovering bodies at the Pentagon site. “Pain can be a tremendous means of re-experiencing a hope. It reminds us of our mortality, that who we are will not last. Hope – that is a great gift.”
Mallard said the war experiences could be used to develop positively.
“Don’t let your experience define your life,” Mallard said. “You can grow from them; you can become stronger from them. Trust in God and he will lead you to hope.”
A memorial 13K run and 8K walk was held also with 80 service members and military civilians participating.
“I am glad to participate in the run with my American co-workers,” said Jalil Dheyal, a native of Baghdad, and a civil engineer for the Iraqi Facilities Engineering Team on post. “Now we’re mixing culture so we can understand each other. We work for a better future.”
For one soldier, the memorial run is symbolic to her joining the service.
“It’s the reason why I joined the military,” said Spc. Michelle Crossan, a native of San Antonio and a combat medic with the 162nd Area Support Medical Company, Texas National Guard. “It’s a big part of my life. It changed who I am now.”
Paul Inman, a native of Wakefield, Kan., and the safety director for the 1st Inf. Div. expressed his thoughts on those who continue to enlist in the military regardless of the on-going war.
“Thank you for stepping up to the plate,” Inman said. “When the enemy taxes us, you rally around the flag. You continue the legacy of the United States of America.”
This day has been embedded in history and the lives lost and those directly affected is a reminder of the freedom he cherishes said one soldier on his eighth tour since joining the Army.
“What fuels me is pretty straightforward,” said Sgt. 1st Class Luis Torres III, a native of Sinajana, Guam and the communication security non-commissioned officer in charge for the 1st Inf. Div. “My father served for 30 years. It’s in my blood and my duty to continue the tradition, to defend our country’s ideals, which we enjoy today.”
This work, 9/11 continues the ‘drive’ in Soldiers, by SPC Raymond Quintanilla, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.