Sept. 11 steels resolve to battle terrorism by LTC Bernie Stansbury, University of South Dakota Editor�s note: The University of South Dakota observed the one year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America Wednesday with a memorial service that included petitions by campus ministry organizations affiliated with the university, as well as a moment of silence at the exact moment of the collapse of the World Trade Center�s north tower.
There also was a noon faculty forum in the Coyote Student Center. A list of victims was posted at Danforth Chapel, the Newman Center and the Coyote Student Center.
The speakers at Wednesday�s observance included LTC Bernie Stansbury, professor of military science at The University of South Dakota. He was gracious enough to share his remarks with the Plain Talk:
Today, Americans gather at hundreds of places around the country and the globe. United in purpose, we gather to remember the victims of last year�s horrific terrorist attacks against this nation. We also gather to remember those in and out of uniform who continue to fight against those who would harm us for no other reason than the United States stands as a bright shining light of freedom in the world.
When the Al Quede terrorists struck at the Pentagon and World Trade Center, they sought to topple the world�s mightiest symbols of military power and economic prosperity. And while those blows hurt, they did not cripple the far reaching capabilities or the effectiveness of our Armed Services and our financial institutions.
Father Joe (Forcelle) asked that I speak today as a member of the military who was assigned to the Pentagon last Sept. 11. During 18 years in the military I have planned, strategized and practiced for war and attacks. But I was horrified on Sept. 11. I was shocked and I grieved the loss of my fellow Americans. Living in Washington, DC, I was surrounded by the aftermath � the smoke, the gridlock and the high alert on our base and throughout the city.
My family and I were stressed and we were engulfed in sadness. Sadness for the people we knew and those we didn�t. For the heartache brought upon the families of the victims by this senseless act.
I reacted as a member of the military and as a Christian man. I wanted answers to who did it and why and whether it would happen again. These answers do not come easily from either a military or spiritual source.
I try to remember the victims. I grieve for the 3,000 innocent people who perished in those surprise attacks. They came from all walks of life, all races, all ages.
I remember the youngest victims, three sixth-graders from Washington, DC. I remember the oldest victim, retired Master Sergeant Max Beilke, who was the last combat soldier to leave Vietnam in 1973 and a Department of the Army civilian for 20-plus years.
I remember the Army�s top personnel manager, Lieutenant General Timothy Maude, the deputy chief of staff for personnel, a 30-year Army veteran who was the senior serviceman killed in the terrorist attacks and one of the highest-ranking U.S. officers ever killed in an attack.
And while most of those who perished in the terrorist attacks were U.S. citizens, I do not forget that the victims of the World Trade Center included citizens of dozens of other nations. Terrorism threatens all civilized nations, not just the United States.
I remember the heroes of Sept. 11. Heroes like retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Rescorla, a Vietnam veteran and chief of corporate security for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter who led evacuation efforts from Tower Two that saved all but six of the 2,700 Morgan Stanley employees. Sadly, Rick was last seen re-entering the building in an attempt to find stragglers.
I remember the 343 New York City policemen and firefighters who enough cannot be said about.
I remember from the Pentagon the 70 soldiers and Department of Army civilians recognized for their numerous valorous acts in rescuing people and the Purple Hearts they received for wounds sustained in the attack and while attempting rescues.
I remember the heroes of United Airlines Flight 93 who we know prevented their airline from being used as another guided missile.
I see America recovering from the Sept. 11 attacks. From the day after the attacks when thousands of Pentagon workers returned to work at a still burning building sending a signal around the world that Americans will not be intimidated by those who would do us harm.
I see recovery in the work that has been done at the World Trade Center to remove the millions of tons of rubble and debris greatly ahead of predicted timeframes.
I see the outpouring of emotions from all corners of the United States, the renewed or new realization by many that we are lucky to be Americans and to have the freedom to practice the religion we choose.
While I grieve each day for the families who have lost, I am thankful for each day I have with my family and friends and I have a renewed knowledge that I want for nothing and I have all I need right in front of me.
We will never forget Sept. 11, 2001 as America�s darkest day. But out of the darkness of that horrible day has arisen a national resolve to make this world a safer place.
United in purpose, we continue to grieve. As a member of the military and as an American, I will long remember the heroes who emerged from the tragedies of those attacks and will fight the good fight against a global network of terrorism to end its threat to America and all civilized nations.
I thank you for being here and I unite with you in prayer.