War on Terrorism

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cheyenne Mountain remembers 9/11, 12 years later

by Michael Golembesky
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

9/17/2013 - CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. -- A large, twisted, steel girder stands on display as a reminder to all passersby of the severity and importance of the work that goes on inside Cheyenne Mountain.

A room full of distinguished visitors, civilians and military service members honored and remembered those who died Sept. 11, 2001, and the service members that gave their lives in the years after. Following the memorial Sept. 11, there was a wreath laying ceremony at the Cheyenne Mountain AFS 9/11 memorial just outside the mountain's entrance.

"Our resolve will always remain strong," said Col. Travis Harsha, 721st Mission Support Group commander and CMAFS installation commander. "This memorial serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made and our responsibility to protect freedom, which is not free."

For many of the employees at Cheyenne Mountain, the memory of that day remains fresh in their minds.

"This mountain played a critical role in our nation's defense that day. Like Secretary of Defense Hagel said (when he visited CMAFS June 28), this place is the nerve center of defense for North America," said Harsha.

"This is where the order came from to ground all aircraft in the sky, the blast doors were closed for the first time in many, many years," said Don Addy, chairman of the Colorado Thirty Group, a non-profit organization fostering communication and cooperation between local communities and military entities. Addy was instrumental in bringing the 9/11 artifacts to CMAFS and area military installations.

Following the events of 9/11, the ranks of the armed forces filled with the next generation of patriots willing to defend their country.

"People joined the military knowing they would likely be sent to war," said Harsha. "What can be nobler than selflessly willing to lay down your life so that others may live in freedom and have a safer and better world? This is something we have to remember, honor and cherish."

The twisted, steel girder from the World Trade Center now at Cheyenne Mountain serves that purpose.

"It displays the level of destruction that was laid upon those two buildings. When you look at that beam, you see the strength of the steel, broken and bent but it remains. It is still here, it's still strong," said Addy.

"It is a reminder of what happened that day, the evil and the good. It was a world event -- it reshaped not only America but the whole world," said Harsha. "We must never forget."

The overcast and rainy weather did not stop a wreath laying during Cheyenne Mountain's observance of the National Day of Service and Remembrance or "Patriot Day" as it is commonly referred.

"Having the opportunity to join Col. Harsha and the great folks here at the mountain, it really means a lot to us. We are honored to be a part of this remembrance," said Addy.

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