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PHOTO CAPTION:  APG Soldiers, civilians, Family members and ChalleNGe Academy cadets serve themselves during a breakfast in the Main Post Chapel Fellowship Hall after the 2013 Patriot Day Remembrance Ceremony.

September 23, 2013
By Yvonne Johnson, APG News

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The APG community marked the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks during the 2013 Patriot Day Remembrance Ceremony at the Main Post Chapel Sept. 11.

The guest speaker, APG Senior Commander Maj. Gen. Robert Ferrell reminded listeners of the nearly 3,000 service members, emergency responders and private citizens "whose lives and dreams were cut short by a terrible act of terrorism" that day.

"Today is a day to honor their memory and to remember what each of their lives meant to their families, their friends and their communities," Ferrell said.

He praised the heroes of 9/11 as well as the thousands of service men and women who have served the nation since then, adding, "Every one of them [is] a volunteer."

Ferrell reminded listeners of the thousands in harm's way, serving the nation on point in Afghanistan and other hot spots.

He said that Patriot Day was a day to take pride in the great relationship Team APG has with surrounding communities, including veterans groups, teachers and educators and local law enforcement, firefighters and emergency responders.

"We simply could not ask for a more supportive community than the one we have right here in this region," he said. "Thank you for all the hard work you do for Team APG, for this community and for our nation.

"I would also like to remind everyone that we still have more than 100,000 service members and civilians deployed to Afghanistan and in harm's way across the globe," he added. "I ask that you keep them and their Families in your thoughts and prayers. God speed. Army Strong. And never forget."

The program included music by the U.S. Army Field Band quartet from Fort Meade and prayers by Installation Chaplain (Lt. Col) Jerry Owens and CECOM Chaplain (Maj.) Young Kim. A breakfast in the chapel Fellowship Hall followed the ceremony. Some attendees remarked about what Patriot Day means to them.

Roxanne Conley, a program manager with the Garrison's Equal Employment Opportunity Office said she lost an uncle, who was a captain in the New York City Fire Department when the World Trade Center towers collapsed. She said she was working for NATO in the Czech Republic at the time. Her son called her from his school after administrators called in the American students to show them what was happening in New York and Washington, D.C.

"We called home but nobody knew where anybody was," Conley said. "We didn't know anything for five days."

"It's important that we take time to remember that day," she added. "Because it's been so long [ago] we tend to forget and take so much for granted."

Spc. Christopher Collins, an RDECOM chaplain's assistant, said he'll never forget 9/11. An 18-year-old high school senior at the time, Collins said he was struck by the sight of people jumping from the burning twin towers. A strange quietness settled over his school that day, Collins said.

"It was a strange feeling. No one had hit us since Pearl Harbor so my generation hadn't experienced real patriotism, so it was shocking," he said.

Though he didn't join the Army until age 25, Collins said he felt he was carrying on the tradition of his father and grandfather who also served. "Today, when I think about 9/11 I think about my combat unit in Afghanistan. We all know each other and we all take the time to remember those who fell in Afghanistan. We never forget."