News: Soldiers commemorate 9/11 on Bagram Air Field
Story by Staff Sgt. Dave Overson
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Sept. 11, 2001, is a date that will likely remain relevant for centuries to come. Most Americans who are more than 20 years old can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing on that infamous day. And today, on the 11-year anniversary of the attacks, service members and civilians deployed to Afghanistan will likely remember where they paid their respects to those killed that day.
The 1st Infantry Division soldiers at Bagram Air Field remembered 9/11 with a ceremony at their division headquarters centered around an actual piece of iron I-beam salvaged from the World Trade Center.
The beam, nine-feet long and weighing more than 950 pounds, stands in memory of the day’s fallen.
“The attack was on American soil – in New York, Washington, D.C., and a lonely field in Pennsylvania, but it was also an attack on all freedom-loving people across the globe,” said Maj. Gen. William C. Mayville Jr., commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force-1 and the 1st Infantry Division, during his speech. “That is why today we fight in solidarity as a coalition of 50 nations, 10 of whom serve here in [eastern Afghanistan.]”
More than 200 service members and civilians attended the ceremony – a reminder of how many people were lost that day and what the free world will continue to do to prevent it from happening again.
“Today is a reminder that the current mission is a direct result of that fateful day; what we are doing is defending our homelands and our citizens from those who want to sully our values and take away that which we hold most dear – our freedom,” said Mayville.
“We are seeing progress every day,” said Mayville. “It has not been an easy fight, and it has been longer than any of us thought it would, but it is a fight we are winning.”
Staff Sgt. Denzil D’souza, a U.S. Army Reserve soldier who is currently deployed to Bagram Air Field, was especially moved during today’s ceremony. Outside of the military, D’souza is a New York City police officer. When he’s not in one uniform, he is likely in the other. In fact, one main reason he joined both the Army and the New York City Police Department was the 9/11 attack.
Eleven years ago, the 27-year-old native of Corona, Queens, N.Y., was sitting on his friend’s rooftop waiting to go to school when the first plane slammed into the World Trade Center.
“I couldn’t believe what was going on. It was heartbreaking,” said D’souza recalling his initial reaction as he witnessed the destruction.
“Regardless of how many years have gone by, those events are engrained into my memory, and being here today is very moving,” he said. “Having an actual piece of iron here from the World Trade Center is almost like bringing a piece of home here with me.”