Monday, September 17, 2007

Memories of Sept. 11, 2001 still recalled in Iraq

Sgt. Chris McCann
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) PAO
Multi-National Division - Center

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq — “These men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home….”
These words, spoken in a radio-broadcast prayer by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the eve of American forces’ entry into the European theater of WWII, were played loudly in the al-Faw Palace at Camp Victory, Iraq, in memory of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Hundreds of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines gathered in the rotunda of the palace built by Saddam Hussein to remember the events of that day and why they serve in Iraq.
Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of Multi-National Corps – Iraq, spoke first during the ceremony.
“Certain events will remain fixed in our minds for the rest of our lives,” Odierno said. “Many people remember where they were when they heard that the Berlin Wall came down. Most people who were alive at the time remember what they were doing when President John F. Kennedy was shot. And I am sure there’s not a person here who doesn’t remember exactly what they were doing and where they were and what they thought when they saw the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the remains of United flight 93. The world would never again be the same.”
While Iraq wasn’t directly involved, the events of that day taught the United States a valuable lesson, said Odierno.
“On Sept. 11, we found we could not rest peacefully within our borders…Extremists declared open war on our way of life. Freedom is the most important thing – freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to be yourself. The Iraqis want the same freedoms; they suffered first under a brutal dictator, and then under the dark cloud of al-Qaeda-allied terrorists. They want a better way of life.”
Spc. Travis Bishop of LaGrange, Kent., a personnel specialist with the 3rd Signal Brigade, III Corps, out of Fort Hood, Texas, played his guitar and sang “Have You Forgotten,” a country song memorializing the events of Sept. 11, 2001. He received a standing ovation. “They asked me to sing this song,” Bishop said with a laugh. “I was very nervous at first. But I couldn’t believe the standing ovation. People were yelling!”
The guest speaker at the event was Ch. (Maj. Gen.) Doug Carver, U.S. Army chief of chaplains, who extolled the outstanding character of Soldiers, calling them the new “Greatest Generation” – a name coined by Tom Brokaw for those who came of age during the Great Depression and fought in WWII.
“Your character is displayed against an enemy who observes no rules of engagement. We’ve done the right things. Our high moral standards enable Soldiers to endure three deployments, to endure 15-month deployments, to keep that young military police Soldier from retaliating against being drenched by a detainee with a cocktail of urine, semen and feces….You have shown yourselves to be men and women of extreme character.”
Lt. Todd Reighly, a firefighter, rang a large bell in memory of the fallen. In the days before hand-held radios, firefighters used telegraphs and bells to communicate over long distances. The “four fives” - five strikes, repeated four times – have been used to memorialize fallen firefighters since the 19th century.
Chaplain’s assistant Damien Mobley, a native of Columbus, Ga., who serves with the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y., said he enjoyed the ceremony.
“The chaplain’s speech was the best,” said Mobley. “It was really heartfelt. The whole ceremony was beautiful, it was really nice.”
Capt. Jason Anderson commands a company with Task Force Vigilant, detached from the 2nd BCT to guard the Victory Base Complex.
“It’s nice to know that even at the tip of the spear, we’re still remembering our fallen, here in Iraq,” said Anderson, a native of West Lafayette, Ind. “It was beautiful and moving, and it really reminded me why we’re here.”

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