Do you remember where you were when you learned of the attacks on September 11, 2001? It is remarkable how, when you ask anybody what they were doing when they heard about the attacks on 9/11, everyone remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing in that instant. It was a moment in history, burned into each of our memories that will probably never be erased. The unimaginable events of that day can never be “unplayed” or undone.
Sixteen years after that day, the implications of those terrible events still carry as much weight and significance as they did in the instant that they changed the world. Pausing to remember this day provides all of us with an opportunity to reflect and remember the tragic events that challenged our resolve as a nation and set the course to counter violent global extremism. We commemorate this event a by honoring the victims, heroes and survivors from that day as well as those from unfortunate events and tragedies that have occurred since. They are all a constant reminder that we must forever remain vigilant and dedicated to our security not only as a nation but also as a global community.
Much of who we are as a country today arose from that one day. In that singular incident, forever imprinted on the minds of each one of us, became a moment that will forever be sewn into the fabric of our nation’s history. Though the events were unreal and tragic, it was also a defining moment when we, as a nation, acted as a beacon to the world, and demonstrated the true resolve, determination and character of the American Spirit. It shone brightly in our darkest hour. The terrorist attack on our country and the nearly 3,000 innocent lives lost was an act that was, and still is, in direct opposition to everything we value. We will never forget.
We will also never forget the lives that were lost in the attack on The Pentagon or in Somerset County, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed. The Pentagon Memorial commemorates the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the 184 innocent lives lost, both in the Pentagon and on American Airlines Flight 77. A wreath-laying ceremony has taken place each year at the Pentagon on the anniversary of 9/11 since 2002.
This year also marks the 5th anniversary of the attack against the American diplomatic mission at Benghazi, Libya. On September 11, 2012, a heavily armed group assaulted the U.S. compound killing four Americans including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens as well as injuring 10 others.
The fight against acts of violence against our country continues to this day. Many heroes were born on September 11, 2001…and many heroes died that day as well. Today, we pause to remember those that were lost and pay tribute to those who selflessly ran to aid and comfort the survivors of those horrific terrorist attacks. We honor the victims, their families, first responders and the men and women serving in our armed forces, diplomatic services and other government agencies committed to ensuring our national interests and values, as well as those of our partners and allies.
America and her citizens are resilient. These attacks did not succeed at destroying our way of life. We overcame these attacks, just as we have in other past challenges. We will not forget those whose lives have been affected by terrorist acts; we honor them through sustained vigilance and unity to combat terrorism. We are in this together; we are stronger as a whole than as a single nation when confronting and countering violent extremism.
Right now, the U.S. Navy is protecting and defending America on the world’s oceans. Navy ships, submarines, aircraft from NAS Lemoore, most importantly, tens of thousands of America’s finest young men and women are deployed around the world doing just that. They are there now. They will be there when we are sleeping tonight. They will be there every Saturday, Sunday and every holiday this year. They are there around the clock, far from our shores, defending America at all times. Being there matters.
As we watch the news daily, the demand for our military to secure our Nation and provide stability around the planet is continuously there. Let us not forget the support we must give in order for us to be there with all the training, personnel and resources required to ensure our safety and well-being. Through training, education, exercises, exchanges, security assistance and other types of military engagement, the U.S., our partner-nations and allies work together to preserve international peace, security and stability.
Yesterday, today, tomorrow, being there matters…America’s Navy is on-station and ready to do what needs to be done to protect all of us.
To those who lost a loved one, to our community and to future generations, we will always remember and honor those who lost their lives that day. It is up to those of us, who are serving now, to continue the fight. Thanks for all you do in the name of our Nation’s defense. Each and every one of you plays an invaluable role in this mission!
All my best,
Captain David James
Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station Lemoore