By Spc. Jess Raasch
BISMARCK, N.D. - A memorial ceremony was hosted today by the North Dakota National Guard at the North Dakota memorial to the fallen in the global war on terrorism, at 11 a.m. to honor families and service members and commemorate a decade since the tragic events of 9/11.
Nearly 200 family members, distinguished visitors, service members, and supporters gathered at the memorial to show their respect for those who have given their lives for our country. "Sept. 11, 2001, changed our nation and our world forever," said Gov. Jack Dalrymple. "The loss that occurred on that day touched the hearts and souls of every American."
The ceremony began with a parade of more than 98 motorcycles driven by the Patriot Guard. Many of the motorcycles displayed United States or North Dakota flags.
Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, thanked the family members for their support of the efforts of the NDNG. "All of your men and women serving in uniform have chosen to serve in a world at war and made numerous sacrifices, along with their families and employers, to keep our country safe from terrorism," he said.
Family members and friends placed roses in honor of the fallen service members on the memorial in remembrance of the sacrifices made since 9/11.
Trevor Hendrickson, son of Kenneth Hendrickson, killed in Iraq, Jan. 24, 2004, spoke on behalf of the families of the fallen. "Even in tragedy, there is a lesson to learn; though it might be hard to swallow," said Hendrickson. "I learned to be thankful."
While discussing his initial anger toward the loss of his father, Hendrickson explained how the anger of his father's death transformed into appreciation for his father's strength and willingness to serve.
"[The fallen] died because they were proud of this country," said Hendrickson.
To conclude the ceremony, family members gathered in the memorial for a private time of reflection. Members of the Patriot Guard formed a human wall around the memorial to grant the family members seclusion and privacy.
"Out of the darkness of that day, heroes emerged and goodwill persevered," said Dalrymple.
Additional speakers at the event included Sen. John Hoeven, Congressman Rick Berg, Lincoln Mayor Bob Johnson, Bismarck City Commissioner Mike Seminary and Mandan City Commissioner Dot Frank.
Located outside the main gate of the North Dakota National Guard headquarters at Fraine Barracks, the memorial is open to the public 24 hours a day.
Since the beginning of the GWOT, 24 service members with close ties to North Dakota have been killed serving their country. The memorial honors these 24 service members as well as all who have served to protect our country.
"Throughout the global war on terrorism, our military families have given so very much," said Sprynczynatyk. "This service, and the numerous sacrifices that go with it, have not gone unnoticed. We owe a sincere debt of gratitude to all of our military families."
The NDNG has mobilized nearly 3,800 soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the GWOT since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America. Currently, the NDNG has about 175 North Dakota Guardsmen mobilized outside of the state and more than 4,000 remain in state for emergency response and national defense. For every 10,000 citizens in North Dakota, 65 serve in the NDNG, a rate that's more than four times the national average.