WRNMMC, Bethesda, MD –
Beneath a cloudy, gray sky, the Walter Reed Bethesda community commemorated the 20th anniversary of 9/11 during a solemn observance.
The observance followed Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s weekly Thursday morning Colors ceremony, which for 9/11 was highlighted by Musician 1st Class Corey Parker’s stirring rendition of the national anthem.
“Twenty years ago, morning dawned liked any other day,” said Army Chaplain (Maj.) Glen Wurdeman, the narrator for the observance. “But within a few hours, the events that unfolded changed America forever. Sept. 11, 2001 challenged our country, tested our resolve, and rallied us towards a common purpose,” he added.
Wurdeman said following the events of 9/11, Americans rallied around the phrase, “We will never forget.” This phrase provided “a unifying focus,” the chaplain continued. He then reflected on the events of 9/11 and gave a timeline of “that fateful day.” As he did so, those in attendance said, “We remember,” and a Sailor tolled a bell for each event. The events and the time they occurred included:
• American Airlines Flight 11 crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m.
• United Airlines Flight 175 hits the south tower of the World Trade Center at 9:02 a.m.
• American Airline Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m.
• The south tower of the World Trade Center collapses at 9:50 a.m.
• United Airlines Flight 93 crashes in Somerset County, Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m.
• The north tower of the World Trade Center collapses at 10:29 a.m.
• The 47-story Building 7 of the World Trade Center complex collapses at 5:20 p.m.
Wurdeman said, “2,977 persons were killed and more than 6,000 were injured. We will always remember them.”
“I remember,” said Army Brig. Gen. Jack Davis, WRNMMC’s director and guest speaker for the observance.
“Sept. 11, 2001 holds emotions that are unique to each of us in the memories of where we were and who we were with, while simultaneously, that period also has a common thread in joining us all together,” Davis added.
He said people “witnessed the greater good [on 9/11] when emergency workers rushed toward the mayhem and destruction and not away from it. We witnessed personal sacrifice as 412 emergency workers were lost in that disaster. We witnessed resolute commitment as they helped evacuate dazed and confused citizens away from danger. We witnessed bravery as they freed those trapped in the Towers, only to return to the dark, smoke-filled stairways with the goal of saving just one more life.”
Davis encouraged those in attendance to visit Building 19 in the America Zone at WRNMMC, where a steel beam from one of the World Trade Center Towers is on display. “It was presented as a symbol of strength, resilience and endurance in appreciation of the Sailors who deployed from the [then] National Naval Medical Center on the USNS Comfort, as she quickly mobilized and steamed to the New York Harbor in support of Operation Noble Eagle.”
He added the Soldiers at the then Walter Reed Army Medical Center also quickly responded to the events of 9/11. “Those Soldiers were among the first medical providers to arrive on the scene [following the attack on the Pentagon]. They had no way of knowing if another attack would occur, however, that did not deter their commitment to treating the multitude of Pentagon personnel who were wounded and injured.”
A fragment of the Pentagon damaged during the 9/11 attack is also on display in WRNMMC’s Building 19. “It’s a powerful visual and physical reminder of our shared history and the bravery displayed that day and since,” Davis continued.
“This history is our organizational legacy,” Davis said. “Each of you here today is connected to that legacy. Each of you embodies that legacy and our commitment to excellence.”
“On Oct. 7, 2001, the Global War on Terror began, and we have been in a constant fight against terror, both at home and abroad,” Wurdeman said. “To honor the 7,054 who died, the 53,307 who suffered visible wounds, those who carry invisible wounds suffered while protecting our freedoms, the family members of those affected, and all who have carried the fight, supported the fight, and provided direct or indirect medical care to those in the fight, we honor this service and sacrifice by ringing the bell once for each of the 20 years that have passed. We will remember, and we will also strengthen our resolve to let freedom ring in and through us, now and always.”