Monday, September 11, 2006
For those few readers here who don’t know, Chuck was the animus and personal motivation behind Project Valour-IT, that great effort pulled together by Chuck and Mrs. Z and Fuzzybear Lionness.
Chuck opens his tribute with the order, “Never Forget!” followed by the simple observation:
We are an Army at war, but not a Nation at war.He talks about the great personal sacrifices made by real heroes on September 11, 2001, men like Rick Rescorla, and the passengers of Flight 93. Acknowledging that he personally knows few of the stories of heroism of that Tuesday five years ago, Chuck also makes this vow:
I will read all I can about their personal stories. I will get to know them, as much as possible, because to forget them, and their lives, is to ignore their absence from our world.Chuck recounts, without noting (or perhaps, without knowing) the particulars of a day of remembrance two years ago, September 11, 2004, when Major General Taluto, then Commander of the 42nd (“Rainbow”) Infantry Division, unveiled a remarkable flag to commemorate 9/11, a flag depicting the Pentagon, the Twin Towers, stars to represent where the planes struck, all headed by the motto, “Never Forget!”
Chuck quotes MG Taluto describing the flag at its unveiling:
“The pentagon and towers represent three of the most recognized structures ever built on U.S. soil,” [MG Taluto] continued. “The Twin Towers may be out of our sight, but they will never be out of our minds.” The stars symbolize the airplanes that were sacrificed on that September day. The single star outside the pentagon and towers represents the brave passengers who diverted the one plane in Shanksville, Pa., saving countless other lives.Chuck includes a photo of the Never Forget! Flag unveiling during the 2004 Commemoration ceremony, which took place the morning of September 11th at Fort Drum, New York, where elements of the 42nd were undergoing mobilization training in preparation for our deployment to Iraq.
As the HHC First Sergeant for the 642 Military Intelligence (MI) Battalion, I was present that morning for the ceremony. I remember MG Taluto’s speech, I remember that flag.
Many of us felt the strain of a delayed departure, of a mobilization that keep getting longer and longer, 3 months turning into 5, then 6, and eventually 7 plus. But on that crisp Adirondack morning, I think we all set aside our nervousness, any anxiety, and apprehension about continued delays.
We thought a lot about Ground Zero in New York, about the gaping hole in the Pentagon, about what might have been an incinerated White House or a demolished Capitol. We prayed for the lives lost, their families and survivors, and the soldiers of the 42nd as they headed into harm’s way.
That morning, I found the confidence to put away in a tight little mental box any lingering fears or uncertainties about whether we were “up to it,” and decided that, for better or worse, come what may, I was placed into this time and place for a reason. To help the soldiers of the MI Battalion to find their strength, to accept their mission with confidence and good faith, and to acknowledge the responsibility that their State, their nation, placed upon their shoulders.
And, I guess you’d say, I wish more than a little angry. Angry that a military response to terror against us stirred up so much resentment, hostility, obstructionism and political posturing, by those who saw 9/11 as problem for law enforcement. Angry at those who thought that our best defense against people who could slit the throats of stewardesses or kill thousands of civilians, was to see things from their point of view or negotiate their grievances.
Chuck’s got some anger, too:
I make this promise to those who enacted, those who supported, and even those who cheered these attacks on my countrymen: I will never forgive you for your cowardice, your praise of murderers, or the bastardization of your religion into a death cult.Read the whole thing. As I said, Chuck’s had to sacrifice far more than many who survive their sacrifice of service.
And we must Never Forget!
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