ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) —
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III was joined by Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in marking the 22nd anniversary of the terrorist attack at a ceremony honoring the 184 lives lost at the Pentagon.
“I know that being here today is hard,” Austin said as he extended his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. “I know that it aches to remember this milestone year after year. And I know that nothing can make it right.
“And, as the years go by, it may feel that the world is moving on or even forgetting what happened here on Sept. 11, 2001,” he said. “But please know this: The men and women of the Department of Defense will always remember.”
Austin and Milley highlighted the outpouring of service and selflessness by the defense community and ordinary Americans in the immediate aftermath of the attacks and the years to follow.
The response by Americans at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center and aboard United Airlines flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, offered proof that “terror would never destroy us,” Milley said.
“Those terrorists hated America,” he said. “They hated our Constitution and the values that bind us together as a nation.
“Those terrorists wanted to destroy our country,” he said. “But, on that day and every day since, the United States has demonstrated that we would never bow to fear and hatred.”
Austin noted that in the month following the attack on the Pentagon, more than 2,500 people volunteered to provide assistance to the grieving families of those who died in the attack.
Years after the attack, that same courage and compassion continued to shine, he said.
As the years go by, it may feel that the world is moving on or even forgetting what happened here on Sept. 11, 2001. But please know this: the men and women of the Department of Defense will always remember.”
Lloyd J. Austin III, Secretary of Defense
That call to service has echoed throughout the decades, propelling thousands of young people to answer the call to serve in the military, Milley said.
“Sept. 11 reminds us that the American spirit still shines in times of testing,” Austin said. “After the attacks, amid the horror and the grief, many Americans felt a deeper sense of duty to their communities and to their country. And all around the country with hearts breaking for the slain and the suffering, Americans looked within themselves and felt called to give back.”
Austin vowed to maintain that legacy of service and honor those who lost their lives in the attacks.
“It is our duty to live up to the goodness that they embodied,” he said. “And it is our duty to defend the democracy that they loved so much. So, we will always seek to meet that challenge.”
“We will always work to keep America safe, and we will always, always remember,” he said.
Originally published at http://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/3522261/austin-milley-remember-those-lost-on-911/