Never Forget: Honoring the Fallen of 9/11

By Kathy Eastwood Staff Writer

September 13th, 2018 | News, News and Features
 A West Point Firefighter rings the bell to honor those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, during the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a crash in a small field in Pennsylvania, at the 9/11 Memorial Ceremony Tuesday. Photo by Bryan Ilyankoff/USMA PAO
 Cadets carry an American flag Tuesday while running through West Point, which is a Sept. 11 tradition at USMA. The runners run from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m. to honor those who perished during the 9/11 terror attacks. Photo by Brandon O’Connor/PV
 U.S. Military Academy Chaplain Col. Matthew Pawlikowski gives the benediction during the 9/11 Memorial Ceremony Tuesday at Eisenhower Hall. Photo by Brandon O’Connor/PV

The West Point community remembered and honored the nearly 3,000 souls who lost their lives on another Tuesday, 17 years ago on Sept. 11, 2001. Due to the weather, the West Point community packed Eisenhower Hall for the annual Remembrance Ceremony.
The event that occurred 17 years ago was the worst terrorist attack, in terms of the death toll in history. Since that day, the words “Never Forget” have become a rallying cry.
“Sept. 11, 2001 started as just another ordinary Tuesday,” U.S. Military Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams said. “News headlines focused on the defense department’s plan to eliminate wasteful spending, the United Nations was certifying the results of East Timor’s first democratic election and Michael Jordan possibly coming out of retirement. The New York Giants were heading back home from Denver after dropping their season opener to the Broncos while the New York Yankees were coming off a three-game winning streak.
“Children went to school, men and women went to work like we always did. After all, it was just another Tuesday. But at 8:46 in the morning, all of that changed. We watched in horror as the first two planes struck the Twin Towers within minutes of each other and continued to watch in disbelief as one by one, the towers collapsed. Before we could catch our breath, we heard of a second attack at our nation’s capital and saw the images of smoke rising from the Pentagon, and before long, we would learn of a fourth plane that crashed in a small field in southwestern Pennsylvania.”
Included in the Remembrance Ceremony were the West Point firefighters who stood to honor the 343 firefighters who sacrificed their lives to save others.
After bells tolled marking the time at which the two planes struck the towers, a West Point firefighter rang the final bell in honor of the first responders who died.
The moment of silence was followed by four cannon blasts in remembrance of the four planes that crashed on 9/11.
In another West Point tradition, cadets ran around post carrying the American flag from reveille to retreat.
“Small and hateful minds tried to break us,” Williams said. “They failed. In the midst of these unspeakable tragedies, the horrific acts of a few were answered by the heroic acts of many. As legions of ordinary people reacted with extraordinary courage; service members and civilian employees at the Pentagon carrying the wounded out of the building and leading their coworkers to safety. The bravery of those on Flight 93 who would sacrifice themselves in that Pennsylvania field to save the lives of others. There were no shortage of heroes that day.
“In the face of tragedy, heroes walked among us,” Williams continued. “When we came together as Americans, we show our greatest strengths as a people when we raised up and mastered a moment when it arrived. Yet, we were not alone that fateful Tuesday 17 years ago.
“Millions of people all over the world stood shoulder to shoulder with us in mourning, in solidarity, in sympathy and in friendship,” Williams concluded. “We will never forget the response of the global community in the aftermath.”