Guest speakers included veterans of the World War on Terrorism, a military mother of two former military personnel, reading a letter from a combat veteran by the Stark County Veterans Duty Officer and an accompaniment from personal stories of a fateful Tuesday 20 years before that shook the world.
Members of the community gathered on September 11 to honor the victims of September 11 and veterans who served in conflicts resulting from the global war on terrorism. (Photo by Sylvia Miller for The Dickinson Press)
The ceremony began with an invocation from North Dakota American Legion Department Chaplain Karen Hutchins, who spoke of love and commitment to service. The invocation was immediately followed by the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance.
The first guest speaker was James Miller, a veteran of the Global War on Terrorism with several periods of service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Guest speaker James Miller, pictured, shared his post with the congregation on remembering 9/11, but honoring the lives lost by living in the memory of the weeks and months following the attacks – with a feeling of patriotism and unity. (Photo by Sylvia Miller for The Dickinson Press)
Miller’s speech aimed to meet the expectations of those who died for their country in the years following the 9/11 attacks, and spent most of his time highlighting the voices of those who would not be on the scene. ‘platform to share their story. .
“The events of September 11, 2001 called courageous men and women to serve their country as members of the armed forces. Like so many before, this generation did so as an entirely volunteer service.” Miller said of the deceased service members. in operations in support of the global war on terrorism. “It was the ordinary men and women who made the extraordinary – these are our examples that we should look at and emulate. They all had one thing in common, they loved this country. Republican and Democrat; White and Black and Brown; man and woman, young and old. These titles that we fight so often for every day do not define us. Let us not forget the most important title: American.
Miller added, “The question before us, as always, is how do we preserve the legacy of those we lost on that fateful day and the years that followed?” How do we keep their spirit alive in our hearts? We have seen the answer. in every generation of Americans – our men and women in uniform, our diplomats, our intelligence, homeland security, and law enforcement professionals – all who have come forward to serve and risk their lives for us help keep us safe. come together in service and remembrance and it is vital that we remember September 11 as we do here today – But for me the most important task ahead is to live like September 12, with unity and love for that country. “
The next guest speaker was City Administrator Brian Winningham, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel whose career spanned several decades and focused on the fight against terrorism. Winningham is the former commander of the 720th Ordnance Company, deployed with multiple teams in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and was the command element of the explosive ordnance disposal forces during Operation Avid Recovery, in Lagos, Nigeria.
Speakers at the event included Brian Winningham, pictured, who spoke about his service in the aftermath of the bombings and reflected on the lessons learned and ignored in the global war on terrorism during his more than two decades of service . (Photo by Sylvia Miller for The Dickinson Press)
Winningham’s speech focused on a world without a strong American presence, the lessons learned from fighting terrorism for most of his career and staying vigilant so that another 9/11 would never be repeated.
“I remember everyone in my position understood the dangers of terrorism, and we tried to talk to the most senior officials about it. It was during the Clinton era and the forces were more focused on other things. At that time, I did like so many servicemen and I sent my wife and children to visit their families in California while I was in England, attending a school from which only three American officers had graduated. I was on my last problem on the course and was leaning over a mortar bomb to try and fix the problem. The instructor approached me and said, “The Twin Towers have just been attacked,” Winningham said. “I thought he was trying to make me make a mistake and fail the task, so I focused on the task. When I was done he looked at me and said, “No, the course is over, the United States has been attacked. I was worried about my family then and now, 20 years later, as I stand here, the memories of September 11 are still so vivid. They are even more so now because of what is going on. Here we are 20 years later and it is devastating for so many people who have spent all these years trying to make sure this never happens again. We need to make better decisions now so as not to allow the next September 11 to happen. ”
Winningham added. “When we take an oath, it’s against the constitution. We take this oath very seriously and the time I have spent in Afghanistan, and for every veteran of these conflicts, we have created an incredible vision of what could be. These people in Afghanistan and Iraq have enjoyed true freedom for 20 years. We created an opportunity for them, where they were free from Taliban control and are free men and women. I’m worried about them, but I’m worried about us that we’ve lost sight of the big picture of what can happen when we get complacent. It’s a shame that we don’t have the political foresight to do what we know how to do best, which is to fulfill a mission.
The next guest speaker was Bobbie Ackerman, a military mother of two, who shared her story about what it was like to have children in the military serving their country and the hardships faced by military family members. .
She shared the story of an audio recording made by her son for his children, the last messages in case of misfortune. Ackerman highlighted the effects of deployments on mothers of service members and the challenges of staying positive in a seemingly bleak situation. Ackerman’s children served in the United States Army and the United States Air Force overseas.
“We still have that recording tape,” Ackerman said of her son’s audio recording, noting that she was lucky her two children made it home safe and sound. “My prayers are for the families and mothers who are not so fortunate. Our hearts are with them.”
To close the guest speakers, Stark County Veterans Duty Officer Jessica Clifton read a letter written by Army Specialist Jerry King who was killed in action and unable to share his own story.
During two operations to clear the outskirts of Turki village in the murderous province of Diyala, Specialist Jerry King and the rest of the Fifth Squadron faced days of fighting, grenade attacks and landmines. terrestrial. Well-trained insurgents sank deep into muddy canals, reminiscent of the trench warfare of World War I. As the fighting continued, B-1 and F-16 bombers were called in to drop a series of powerful bombs.
Two months later, King, the former honors student and doubles sport athlete from Georgia, sat down at his computer to write an informal journal. King was killed in action when suicide bombers attacked an outpost he occupied.
“I was very touched during the event, listening to the stories and sharing the story of Specialist King. It was a distinction to honor our deceased service members and our service members,” said Clifton. “I want to thank our District 8 American Legion riders for making the day possible and for sponsoring the event.”