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Marines serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom paused in remembrance of 9/11 by attending a remembrance service aboard Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq, Sept. 11, 2009. The ceremony reminded those in attendance of the sympathy and compassion that was shared across the world because of the tragedies of that day. (U.S. Marine Corps illustration by M. M. Bravo)

Photo by Cpl. M. M. Bravo

Marines pause in remembrance of 9/11

16 Sep 2009 | Cpl. M. M. Bravo

“It was a day that shocked many of us,” said Lt. Cmdr. Shaun S. Brown, a chaplain with Combat Logistics Regiment 27 (Forward), at a remembrance service aboard Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq, Sept. 11. 

Service members came from across the base to join in solemn prayer and remembrance of the tragic events that took place on Sept. 11, 2001.  According to the 9-11 Commission Report, “the nation suffered the largest loss of life—2,973—on its soil as a result of hostile attack in its history,” affecting not just Americans, but more than 90 other countries that lost citizens.

Serving their country in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, these service members did not join together to remember the anger and loss many people felt that day.  They joined to remember the sympathy and compassion that was shared from across the world because of that day.

“People from nations of every continent communicated their sympathy,” said Cmdr. Douglas M. Withington, a chaplain with CLR-27 (Fwd).  “One small expression of this that I experienced personally was from Canadian friends of ours.”

Withington shared his story with everyone in attendance, laughing as he told them how his friends always joked with him that the only thing America had better than Canada was the weather, but only in some places.

As his story continued, he grew solemn as he recalled the humble sympathy of his friends that day.

“They were the ones who called me the morning of Sept. 11 and told me to turn on the T.V.,” he said.  “That afternoon they went out and bought an American flag and flew it on their front porch.”

But they weren’t the only ones that were affected.

“Something phenomenal happened in our country just after this terrible tragedy,” he continued.  “Not just people who knew the victims of the attacks, not just people in New York City and Washington, D.C., but people from all over the country drew nearer to each other, and nearer to God.”

Citizens across the nation lowered their guards.

“The hearts of those who had been drifting with the tide toward increasing isolation and alienation were seeing again the wisdom of ages past, which taught that all people who dwelled on this earth were of one blood and one race,” he continued.  “People were reminded that what happened to some affected all, because we are connected.”

It is ingrained in service members throughout the U.S. military, that what happens to one affects all.  We suffer together, we rejoice together, we live together, and we die together. 

So with eight years passed, Marines joined in solemn grace.  Whether we were there or not, we remember, because we are Americans and what affects one of us, affects all of us.


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