By Staff Sgt. A.J. Coyne
RICHMOND, Va. - More than 300 people gathered at the capitol bell tower in Richmond on Sept. 11 to remember the nearly 3,000 lives lost exactly five years before during terrorist attacks at the Pentagon, in New York City and in Pennsylvania.
The Joint Force Headquarters color guard and Col. Robert H. Simpson, director of the Joint Staff, represented the Virginia National Guard at the solemn, 30-minute ceremony.
Governor Tim Kaine, Attorney General Bob McDonnell, and Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder paid tribute not only to the Americans who lost their lives that day five years ago but also to the military members who have taken part since then in the Global War on Terror.
“On 9/11, our world changed in a terrible way,” Kaine said. “We can no longer take for granted that oceans on both sides of our nation will protect us from the turmoil that is inflicted upon most of the population of the rest of the world. In a strange and mysterious way it’s brought us closer to the rest of the world and made us realize how vulnerable we are.
“One of the most difficult jobs as governor,” he continued, “is writing letters to family member of military members who were lost defending this country in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
“I sign those letters virtually every week,” Kaine admitted. “And every one is a painful reminder of the cost of freedom.”
Kaine extended his appreciation not only to members of the military but to their families as well and challenged those attending the ceremony to find a way to serve their community.
“Dedicate yourself to the greater good of the commonwealth,” he said.
“Americans are united against an enemy that attacked America on 9/11,” Wilder said. “The heart and soul of America is as strong as ever and the Pentagon deaths shall not be in vain.”
McDonnell called the terrorist attacks a sober reminder that there are enemies of freedom around the world.
“I don’t think it’s a secret that in part the reason we haven’t had another attack in the last five years is because the brave men and women have sought out the terrorists where they train, where they operate in foreign lands so they will not have the capacity to attack us again, here in America,” he said. “I salute them I applaud them. America will continue to be the land of the free because it’s the home of the brave.”