Col. Mark E. Huhtanen, Fort Jackson deputy commanding officer, speaks during a 9/11 remembrance ceremony held at Fort Jackson’s Centennial Park Sept. 9. Huhtanen said despite the great tragedy, ‘our nation has prevailed. We can never forget that we are a people who refuse to quit and never accept defeat.’ (Photo by Robert Timmons)

‘Our strength and resolve never faltered’ despite 9/11 tragedy

By Alexandra Shea, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

Fort Jackson honored the memory and brave acts of first responders, military personnel and those who perished during the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and an open field in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania.

“It was the moment heroes were created through unbelievable circumstance. It was the moment for which our nation rallied around the flag, something we had not known for generations,” said Col. Mark Huhtanen, Fort Jackson deputy commanding officer and speaker. “It was the moment when bravery, patriotism and sacrifice became absolutely necessary to secure the future for generations to come. It is a moment to be remembered for history.”

Soldiers, installation and Columbia senior leaders, civilians and their Families paused for a moment of silence in remembrance of all involved in the attack and those who remained at ground zero to continue recovery efforts to help bring closure to families across the nation.

“Today is about remembering those who had no choice in their end. Who simply showed up at work to get their jobs done only to be robbed of their life by religious and ideological extremists,” Hutanen continued. “We pay tribute to the families that lost their most precious loved ones, forever effected by the events that were out of their control. We honor the heroes who bravely dared to serve others in a decades long conflict born on that day. Today is about recommitting to the purpose of this Army and this nation in honor and memory of those Americans who lost their lives protecting you and me.”

Seven wreaths made up of red, white and blue flowers were laid before the flagpole. One each representing first responders, the passengers of each plane used in the attacks, those who volunteered to serve their branch in a time of war, the victims in the Twin Towers and Pentagon, Gold Star Families, and finally the children of those who lost their parents in the attacks and the following Global War on Terrorism campaigns.

Attendees stood silently as each wreath was set in place. Fort Jackson fire trucks with ladders extended, military police vehicles and ambulances lined Jackson Boulevard providing a backdrop of solidarity and remembrance.

Though the ceremony was somber, Hutanen reminded the attendees that despite great tragedy, the American people found strength in one another.

“We can never forget those that scarified everything. The American people have a strength matched by no other. Throughout the 20 years of conflict since 9/11, men and women from all around our country of every background have come together and raised their right hand. Despite the ongoing war, hundreds and thousands dedicated their lives to support and defend the constitution and to make every effort to secure peace through strength and to protect the American way of life. Our culture and our history changed that day, but our strength and resolve never faltered,” he said.

The ceremony concluded with a lone trumpeter from Fort Jackson’s 282nd Army Band playing Taps.

“Through that tragic Tuesday morning 21 years ago and the years after, our nation has prevailed. We can never forget that we are a people who refuse to quit and never accept defeat,” Huhtanen said in closing. “Today we lay these wreaths to memorialize the suffering and sacrifice, to channel our righteous outrage towards readying ourselves to defend against whoever the next enemy might be and to ensure that we never forget.”