Fort Drum hosted the Annual Remembrance Ceremony on Aug. 31 in Memorial Park to honor 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Clockwise from top: Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division (LI) place wreaths along Heroes Walk in front of the 23 bronze plaques bearing the names of Soldiers who died during operations ranging from Hurricane Andrew Relief in 1992 to Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan. Maj. Gen. Milford H. Beagle Jr., 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Mario O. Terenas, 10th Mountain Division (LI) senior enlisted adviser, place a wreath at the foot of the Military Mountaineers Monument. Paul Monti, father of Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti, who posthumously was awarded the Medal of Honor in September 2009, serves as guest speaker at the ceremony. (Photos by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)
Fort Drum community joins Gold Star families
to honor fallen 10th Mountain Division Soldiers
Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Aug. 31, 2021) – Members of the Fort Drum community joined Gold Star families and other invited guests Aug. 30 in Memorial Park to reflect on and honor the sacrifices of 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers who died in service to their country.
“This ceremony is the most important ceremony that we will do all year long,” said Maj. Gen. Milford H. Beagle Jr., 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander. “We honor our fallen. We remember them.”
Guest speaker for the Annual Remembrance Ceremony was Paul Monti, father of Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti, who posthumously was awarded the Medal of Honor in September 2009.
Monti, a retired schoolteacher of 36 years, said that he has traveled throughout the country and has spoken to numerous organizations and groups as a Gold Star father.
“It’s not easy,” he said. “But of all the speaking I have ever done – and I’ve spoken to every kind of group you can imagine – this is indeed the hardest event I have ever, ever had to speak at. To look at you, Gold Star families, brings pain to my heart. I know exactly what you have been going through, because I have been going through it for 15 years.”
Monti’s son deployed with 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, to Afghanistan, and was killed on June 21, 2006, in an ambush by Taliban gunmen.
He said that he remembers the last phone call he received from his son, early in the morning on June 18, 2006. He got out of bed to get the phone, and he was gruff in his greeting. Jared wished him a happy Father’s Day.
“Three days later there was man walking up the driveway in uniform,” Monti said. “And I knew why he was there. And I cried out, ‘Not my son, not my Jared.’”
Monti said that everything he has done after that has been to keep his son’s name alive.
“Whatever I did, I had to do it in his name,” he said.
Monti began a series of charities to support educational scholarships for students, flag-planting ceremonies on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and a “Celebrate the Military Child” program to help families of deployed service members.
“That’s what you do,” he said. “You give back. You make it your mission to make sure your child is not forgotten.”
In his remarks, Monti asked the audience for a moment of silence for the 13 service members who were killed Aug. 26 in Afghanistan.
“We are all members of a club that we did not want to join,” he said. “It was thrust upon us, and we must accept that dubious honor. Our club has no rules, but like any other club it has dues. Our club is the most expensive club in the world. We have paid with our loved ones, and we pay it day after day, month after month, year after year.”
Monti shared three principles that his son followed in his life.
“The first was, ‘No matter what you do, always try your hardest,’” he said. “The second principle was to ‘Never give up.’ And the last, and the hardest of them all, is to ‘Always do the right thing.’ I ask you this: never forget, which I know you won’t. Your child will never be forgotten, because the 10th Mountain will never let that happen.”
Photos from the ceremony are available at www.flickr.com/photos/drum10thmountain/albums/72157719767067852.