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Fort Wainwright honors victims of Sept. 11 terror attacks

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Posted: Saturday, September 10, 2011 12:18 am | Updated: 1:24 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — As dusk fell, the chimes of five bell rounds, a traditional fire department ceremonial salute, emanated from a Fort Wainwright fire truck and sounded across the water at Monterey Lakes Memorial Park.

The walkways surrounding the lakes were softly lit with individual luminaries placed along the winding paths by a couple hundred people who attended the 10th Year Anniversary Remembrance Ceremony of 9/11 on the Army post Friday evening.

Everyone paused to listen to the bells followed by the mournful sound of taps.

It was a quiet time to reflect on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

And for some standing along the edge of the upper lake, the solemn interval was enhanced watching a family of five ducks silently paddling by.

Preceding the sunset ceremony, firefighters, police officers and civilians who died on Sept. 11 were remembered and honored in an evening service at nearby Northern Lights Chapel.

Members of the military who died in the ensuing years in Iraq and Afghanistan also were lauded for their dedication to freedom and liberty.

Nineteen-year-old Victor Sutherland, whose father, Staff Sgt. Stephen Sutherland, died in Rawah, Iraq, in 2005, reflected on how his life and the lives of all Americans have changed since 9/11.

Only 9 years old on Sept. 11, 2001, Sutherland said his and all Americans’ sense of security was compromised by the terrorists attacks. But today, he said, he is no longer afraid, realizing what a great nation we live in and the rights we have as Americans.

“This should be a celebration of the memory of all the victims who died that day and to all those who went to work that day, the police officers and firefighters and all the troops,” Sutherland said, referring to the 9/11 anniversary.

He encouraged the attendees to live every day to its fullest.

“Love, laugh, cherish dreams, cry and feel pain, and you’ll know you are alive.”

Sutherland plans to join the Army at the end of the year.

“It will be an honor to serve,” he said.

Chaplain Maj. Mike Allen said 9/11 has “shaped and molded us,” similar to how previous generations of Americans were affected by and responded to Pearl Harbor and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

“We’ll never forget the images of Sept. 11, played over and over again, or the response of firemen and the first responders,” he said, adding other images and words like “Let’s roll.”

And 9/11 also brought a lot of good in all Americans — a rekindling of “looking out for one another” and a “searching for God,” Allen added.

As the service neared its end, Michelle Benjamin sang “Amazing Grace,” as familiar images of 9/11 destruction in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania flashed across the screen, followed by photos of fallen members of the Fort Wainwright 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team and attached combat team members, in Iraq, and the First Stryker Brigade in Afghanistan and 16th Combat Aviation Brigade.

The final screen read, “9/11 Always Remembered, Never Forgotten.”

Contact staff writer Mary Beth Smetzer at 459-7546.

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