Tenth anniversary of 9/11, A time to remember heroes who died as well as heroes who emerged



Commentary by Gen. Edward Rice Jr.
Commander, Air Education and Training Command


9/9/2011 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of one of the greatest tragedies to ever occur in our nation. It was 10 years ago we watched as terrorists attacked America and killed nearly 3,000 innocent people. The terrorist attacks taught us a hard lesson: we are not isolated from those who seek to destroy our precious freedom.

Since then, we have grieved, we have prayed, we have asked ourselves over and over how we could have prevented it. We have tried to take precautions to prevent forever a recurrence. We have suffered from the emptiness their deaths leave.

As we pause for a moment from our everyday tasks -- phone conversations, meetings, general hustle and bustle -- remember that fateful day. Remember the heroes of 9/11 as they were -- energetic, fun-loving, talented, compassionate, committed to family and fellow co-workers. In our hearts, they will forever be embraced and cherished.

Sept. 11, 2001, took from us something that can never be replaced. It took our innocence, our sense of security, and it took our fathers and mothers and sons and daughters. But it did not take our pride, resolve or determination. The memories of these brave men and women live on. The heroes who died in New York, in Washington, D.C., and in western Pennsylvania, we remember and honor them in how we conduct ourselves and work tirelessly for the betterment of people both here and around the world.

For 10 years now, this nation has worked hard to prevent another attack against America or its allies. We have worked together to root out those who bring us harm. We have traveled to, fought and died in distant lands, seeking to make people safe from terrorists and their supporters. The U.S. Air Force, its sister services and our coalition partners remain united toward something greater than themselves.

Civil War officer, Brig. Gen. Joshua Chamberlain, a veteran of Gettysburg and commander of the famous stand on Little Round Top, said it eloquently, "We do not live for self...we are part of a larger life, reaching before and after, judged not by deeds done in the body, but deeds done in the soul. We wish to be remembered. Willing to die, we are not to be forgotten."

As long as we have strong, patriotic communities, and as long as there are great Airmen, Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Coastguardsmen willing to fight hard for our freedoms, this great nation, the United States of America, will always withstand any mighty blows.

Human life is sacred to all of us, and as such we resolve to remember and honor those heroes, those average Americans who died on 9/11 and in the decade since. We look forward to the day when such tragedies are no longer a part of life, to a brighter day for us all.