HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Members of the community gathered here this morning in front of the POW/MIA memorial to observe the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Hanscom Fire Captain Dale Smith and Assistant Fire Chief Jason Garcia spoke during the ceremony about the significant loss of life.
“I feel grateful that there are people in our communities who are willing to sacrifice their lives to save the life of another,” said Smith, a 31-year veteran of the fire service, speaking about the first responders who lost their lives that day.
Overall, nearly 3,000 people were killed at the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Among them were firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians, New York court officers and a New York fire patrol member.
Garcia, whose parents were working at the Pentagon that day, spoke about teaching those too young to remember the impact 9/11 had on the nation, and the sacrifice that followed.
“It’s our job to educate them ... to remember, of course, the costly, invaluable lessons 9/11 taught us,” said Garcia, a 26-year fire service veteran.
During the ceremony, officials tolled bells at the times aircraft struck the towers, Pentagon and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.
Col. Katrina Stephens, installation commander, offered remarks to the nearly 100 people attending the ceremony, including Norman Abbot, regional director for U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton and Massachusetts State Rep. Ken Gordon.
“Let’s remember, reflect, be kind to one another, and most importantly, never forget,” said Stephens, who was a company grade officer stationed at Hanscom and attending Squadron Officer School in Alabama at the time.
Garcia, Smith and Stephens placed the 9/11 remembrance wreath at the base of the monument.
Lt. Gen. Shaun Q. Morris, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Jamie L. Newman, AFLCMC command chief, also attended the ceremony as part of their three-day visit to the installation.
Timothy Martin, a 66th Security Forces Squadron employee, sang “America The Beautiful” while attendees placed carnations near the remembrance wreath.
The Hanscom Middle School choir performed the national anthem.
Several local communities, including Billerica, Chelmsford and Lowell, Mass., will host separate 9/11 observance events tomorrow, Sept. 11.