When we thought about putting the AAF to Afghanistan trip together, we had a clear vision of what we wanted to accomplish. We wanted our troops to know that after 10 years, we still support them. We wanted to make sure that they knew, that we recognized all of the sacrifices that they have made, and that their families have made. On that fateful morning thousands of lives were lost. Thousands more were changed forever, because they lost a loved one. We learned the true meaning of bravery when the first responders ran in, when everone else ran out. We also learned what a difference a few people could make when they banned together, to stand against a common enemy on Flight 93. Their American spirit has been felt every day since. The lives of many others changed that day too. The image of our beloved country, under attack, inspired thousands to enlist in the armed forces, knowing that war was soon to follow, and those who were already enlisted volunteered to extend immediately because they knew that they would be needed. In the 10 years since September 11, 2001 our nation has seen it's share of ups and downs. The economy has suffered, and our resolve has been tested. The one thing that has remained the same, is the spirit of our troops. They have endured multiple deployments, months and years away from home. They have seen the worst that humanity has to offer when faced with the enemy, and they have seen the hope for the future in the children who will hopefully grow into the generation that finally fixes the worlds problems. In my opinion there are no better human beings on Earth, than our soldiers. They work so hard, are not paid enough, they are used as political pawns in Washington, and they pay the price for the policies that they follow. They deserve all of of love and support, but they don't always get it. Today, I carry with me all of the love and support from the WAAF listeners to Afghanistan, where are troops are hard at work rebuilding a nation, and forging alliances with a people who will one day stand on their own two feet, and defend themselves.
Here are some of the pictures from the memorial service this morning, where members of all of the allied forces joined together this morning to pay tribute to every soldier who has died since September 11, 2011. Every name from every nation was read out loud. It took 2 1/2 hours just to read the American names. Another hour to read the names of the UK soldiers, and the rest of the day to go through the names of every other country involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn.
The flags of the allied forces, at half staff in Patriot Square.
Members of the allied forces during the memorial ceremony.
The US and Afghan flags flying together.
General Hammond from the Mass Army National Guard speaking during the memorial service.
A member of the Canadian Army photographs members of the Mass Army National Guard during the memorial service.
The bunker gear tribute outside of the fire station on Camp Phoenix.
With members of the base fire department on Camp Phoenix
The patches from all of the fire houses that have been represented on base.