By David G. Landmann
WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2006 – The commander of the Army's 3rd Corps and Fort Hood used the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States as an opportunity to remind his troops -- most of whom have played active roles in the global war on terror -- about the importance of their mission in keeping America safe. Army Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno told hundred of soldiers and civilians gathered in the 3rd Corps headquarters atrium Sept. 11 that it's important to remember not just the nearly 3,000 killed on Sept. 11, 2001, but also the servicemembers who have died since that day.
"Five years ago today, our nation was attacked by an enemy not only intent on destroying our landmarks, but our way of life as well," he said. "We discovered (then) we had a new enemy, ... intent to move the world away from all we hold dear."
Odierno warned his audience those responsible for the Sept. 11 carnage -- "these brutal thugs" -- are still active. "On the first opportunity, these radical terrorists will strike again," he said.
The general urged the group to mark the Sept. 11 attacks by reaffirming their commitment to ensuring a similar attack never happens again. "We continue to fight on so Americans won't have to relive the events of (Sept. 11). ... Remember, we fight in Iraq and Afghanistan to make sure the citizens of this country never have to endure attacks like those we suffered on 9-11.... We must remain steadfast in our resolve."
Odierno urged the group to remember the soldiers, including many from his own command, who have died in the terror war. He also paid tribute to the first responders, the police and firefighters, who died in the attacks. "We must never forget the fire and police departments. Those people give their lives ... simply to help others," he said.
Odierno's remarks were followed by the tolling of a fire engine bell, a traditional method of paying homage to fallen firefighters. The bell tribute was offered by Fort Hood Deputy Fire Chief Coleman Smith and Assistant Fire Chief Steven Carter.
Two Fort Hood firefighters, two Fort Hood civilian police officers and two Fort Hood soldiers draped an American flag from the second-floor atrium balcony during the ceremony. The reenactment recalled Sept. 11, 2001, when a giant flag was unfurled at the Pentagon shortly after it was rammed by a hijacked jetliner.
Fort Hood's ceremony was among a range of activities at this central Texas post that commemorated Sept. 11. In neighboring Killeen, several Fort Hood units, including 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and elements of the 1st Cavalry Division, participated in ceremonies at local schools.
Soldiers also joined about 300 Killeen residents in a Sept. 11 Freedom Walk at Leo F. Buckley Stadium.
In nearby Copperas Cove, the Copperas Cove High School Junior ROTC led a commemorative Freedom Walk through Ogletree Gap Park. About 200 residents attended the event, which also featured performances by students from Fairview-Miss Jewell, J.L. Williams and Martin Walker elementary schools.
The Copperas Cove and Killeen Freedom Walks were among more than 130 nationwide in every state and the District of Columbia that paid tribute to the Sept. 11 victims and honored servicemembers, past and present.