CHIÈVRES, Belgium – Runners see a C-130 land at Chievres Air Base. (U.S. Army photo by Bryan Gatchell, USAG Benelux Public Affairs)
Story by U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Public Affairs
CHIÈVRES, Belgium – At three of its locations in two of its host nations, U.S. Army Garrison Benelux observed the 19th anniversary of 9/11 with a “We Remember” event and a run and walk.
The event at Chièvres Air Base, Belgium began with an invocation by the garrison chaplain, remarks by the garrison commander Col. James Yastrzemsky, the tolling of bells and the playing of taps by a member of the SHAPE Band, and a flyover by a C-130 whose crew was training out of Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
The ceremonial portion of the event was streamed to the other locations: the HUB at the Brunssum Site in the Netherlands and to Tervuren Park in Tervuren, Belgium, where the Brussels community observed the event.
Yastrzemsky recounted the stories of several individuals of the 2,977 who died during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He told the audience about Todd Beamer, a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93, who attempted to regain control of the aircraft after it had been hijacked. He left behind a wife and children. Yastrzemsky told the audience about Stephen Siller, a New York City firefighter who returned to work to get his gear, abandoned his vehicle in traffic to get to the World Trade Center on foot, and died in the collapse of the South Tower.
And Yastrzemsky told the audience about Sgt. James Regan of Manhasset, New York, who was inspired to enlist after the 9/11 attacks, joined the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. On his fourth combat tour, he died during an improvised explosive device attack in northern Iraq in 2007.
“For so many who lost loved ones, this day lives on as a constant reminder to how precious life is and the joy life brings,” said Yastrzemsky. “May today be a reminder to us all of the precious life we’ve been given. May we seize every moment and make moments matter.”
“The Commander talked about remembering exactly where you were at the time of the events,” said Sandra Bergmann, a family member in the Brunssum area. “It really did get stuck in my memory, I know exactly what I was doing. It's a great way of honoring, I got quite emotional.”
The décor of the Chièvres event included boots and shoes donated by community members to symbolize the lives lost from the attack.
The day also held a special significance for the USAG Benelux community because of the garrison’s close ties to NATO.
“Following September 11, 2001, NATO invoked Article 5 for the first time in its history in 1949, which committed its members to stand by the United States in our response to the 9/11 attacks,” said Yastrzemsky. “The principle of collective defense enshrined in Article 5 essentially means that an attack against one ally is an attack against all.
“This shared commitment and common bond of values has endured, and the countless sacrifices made have been shared across our alliance,” continued Yastrzemsky. “And for that, we are forever grateful.”
Several local mayors, the Hainaut provincial commander, various national military representatives and the local fire chief also attended the event at Chièvres Air Base.
A non-competitive run / walk followed the ceremonial portion of the event. The participants had the option of running or walking a three- or five-kilometer route around the airfield at Chièvres, a three- or five-kilometer route from the HUB through the site and the surroundings. The route for the Brussels-based community was five kilometers through Tervuren Park.