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Commentary: 9/11 a day to remember service, sacrifice

  • Published
  • By Col. Matthew Fritz, 419th Fighter Wing commander
  • 419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

This weekend, as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, I’d ask that each of you join me in taking a moment to pause and reflect on the terrible events of that day.

As we remember, let us also pledge to never forget. These attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 innocent Americans and injured 6,000, were the catalyst for the U.S and its allies to conduct operations against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, beginning what we now know as the Global War on Terrorism.

9/11 is forever engraved into the minds of anyone old enough to remember, but with each passing year the events of that day pass further into history and it’s up to us to keep the memory alive. Those who lost family members and friends have undoubtedly relived that horrific day over and over in their minds. They will never be the same, and we owe it to them to remember.

We should also remember the countless sacrifices made by first responders who selflessly ran toward danger to save others that day. 9/11 was a day filled with inconceivable loss, but it was also filled with remarkable heroism.

Thanks to each and every one of you who served in the wake of 9/11 and to those of you who raised your right hand to protect and defend our great nation in the last 20 years. Your service matters.

In the days following 9/11, while enforcing the no-fly zone over Iraq in support of Operation Southern Watch, the 419th was tasked to fly classified combat missions into Afghanistan and our personnel were some of the first to strike at the heart of Al Qaeda. The wing’s 466th Fighter Squadron was the first F-16 unit deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom and are credited with destroying terrorist assets and providing close-air support to ground troops. In the months and years following 9/11, countless 419th FW reservists deployed in support of OEF, including Airmen from our operations group, maintenance group, mission support group, and medical squadron.

I’m eternally grateful to each of you for your willingness to serve, and I’m honored and humbled to stand alongside you. As we remember and reflect on the lives lost or changed forever on 9/11, let us also think about why we serve, and resolve to remain united in protecting this great nation and its freedoms.