By Airman 1st Class William Tracy
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Front Range community members gathered at Schriever to honor the victims of 9/11 during the Pikes Peak 9/11 commemoration ceremony ‘A Community Remembers’ Sept. 11.
This year Schriever hosted the ceremony, which rotates among different locations across the Front Range.
Service members across all branches and prominent local community members, including Colorado Springs Police Department and Colorado Springs and Cimarron Hill’s Fire Department personnel — as well as state and municipal government leaders, attended the event.
“When you look at the number of civic leaders who came out, when you look at the military members who came from other bases outside of Schriever, it really shows what a strong military community we have,” said Lt. Col. Nate Harris, 50th Space Wing director of staff and event organizer. “They all showed that support joining us in remembering September 11th.”
The Orbital Harmony choir opened the ceremony with a singing of the National Anthem followed by remarks from Col. Jennifer Grant, 50th Space Wing commander.
“This year marks the 16th anniversary of these attacks on our nation,” Grant said. “This ceremony is a reminder to each of us as to why so many service members and first responders serve this nation and our communities — placing their lives on the line every day.”
The ceremony’s guest speaker, retired Lieutenant General Larry James, served as the 50 SW commander when the attacks occurred, shared his experience during that day.
“There was something going on that we did not expect,” James said. “We didn’t know exactly why, and we didn’t know exactly who did this. But, I will tell you that despite the unknowns, despite the confusion, the men and women of this base and every base in our nation and around the world, and the first responders that are represented here, responded magnificently.”
At the conclusion of his speech, Schriever firefighters performed the ceremonial ringing of the bell, known as “striking the four fives,” paying tribute to those who have fallen, and TAPS.
Grant and Don Addy, chairman of the Colorado Thirty Group, laid a wreath during a separate ceremony shortly afterwards. The wreath, donated by the Colorado Thirty Group, was dedicated to remembering the victims and those who serve to protect and defend.
It was placed in front of a monument crafted from a steel beam salvaged from the World Trade Center attacks –secured by Addy for the base during his tenure as the National Homeland Defense Foundation president.
The beam, as well as the plaza that surrounds it, was designed as a tribute to all three sites affected by the events of 9/11, as well as provide a somber place for reflection. The plaza is a replica of the East Coast, with the blue pavement representing the ocean and the tan, the land. Each site is identified by a yellow circle, with the outline of the states evident. The path leading up to the site signifies the flight path of the airplanes. The beam mounted upright as a symbol of the nation’s resolve against the war on terrorism.
CSFD and CHFD personnel hoisted a large U.S. flag from their firetruck ladders directly behind the steel beam, symbolizing the nation’s resolve in the face of its adversaries.
“Today we remember not only the tragedy of this date, but the strength and unity that resulted from it, as more than 71,000 personnel representing our military service members, emergency responders, community leaders, local business owners and many others came together to offer assistance,” Grant said.
Nearly 3,000 men, women and children died during the attacks on Sept. 11, and thousands of service members have given their lives since.
“A lot of people who are now joining the military don’t have a living memory of those days,” Harris said. “For those of us who were in uniform at the time, or were old enough to know what’s going on, it still remains a very significant event that for a lot of folks changed their world. Being able to share experiences of what that day was like for those who were around at the time is very important.”