Members of the Fort Bragg community, along with community members of Fayetteville, Spring Lake and other nearby towns, gathered at the Main Post Flag Pole Wednesday to commemorate those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Dave Roever, a Purple Heart recipient and Vietnam veteran was the guest speaker for the event and he reminded those in attendance of the importance of being vigilant to prevent other terrorist attacks.
“Today is a day of commemoration. We don’t celebrate this day. We commemorate it. Today represents a re-creation and a re-connection to hope out of tragedy, which to me is the secret of life,” said Roever, a Texas native and former Navy riverboat gunner in Vietnam.
Roever said he, like others in attendance, remembers what he was doing when he first heard about the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93 that crashed into an open field near Shanksville, Pa.
He said he respects today’s military’s efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and has spent time in both places.
Roever recalled being in the back of a C-130, flying over Iraq when he was handed an inspirational coin from one of the commanders onboard the aircraft. He said the inscription on the coin and the conversation the ensued is why he feels comfortable here in the U.S.
“I took comfort,” Roever said. “I took comfort in knowing that our U.S., (to include) Fort Bragg remains a guidon, a light, in a world of darkness, where the price of freedom has never been squelched. It will be paid at any price.
“I sleep good at night, because I know that the men and women of the United States military, and let me just point out specifically, Fort Bragg, were up all night, watching over me in some corner of the earth, where best laid plans of our enemy are being made,” Roever added.
He asked the crowd, what is the best weapon that they have against us, and what is the best weapon we have against them?
“Their best weapon is in our own hands to destroy us and it’s called forgetting,” Roever explained. “When we forget, we have predestined ourselves to re-live that horrible day for yet another generation to come. Our greatest weapon against them is not to forget. It is to remember.
“If we continue to remember, we will continue to be vigilant to provide for that next generation what we today still enjoy. Our freedom has not and will not be destroyed, it will continue,” Roever said.
The ceremony began at 9:03 a.m.; the exact same time the hijackers flew United Airlines Flight 175 into the south tower of the World Trade center in 2001. It was also one hour before United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa., after passengers attempted to subdue their hijackers during the attacks. Two other planes, Flight 11 and Flight 77, were hijacked and flown into the north World Trade Center tower and Pentagon at 8:46 a.m. and 9:37 a.m. on that infamous day.
“September 11 is forever written in our history and as long as we send men and women into the fight, we will remain committed to the task at hand,” explained Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, XVIII Abn. Corps commanding general.
“We must successfully complete our mission in Afghanistan, just as we did in Iraq and continue to honor those we have lost along the way,” he added.
In all, 2,977 American citizens died at the hands of 19 hijackers, who were also killed, while more than 6,000 more were injured.