Memory of 9/11 victims and soldiers who responded to the call of duty honored
By BEA LEWIS Union Leader Correspondent
During Patriot Day services Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster shakes hands with Joe Bennett, who turned 100 in April and served in the tank corps during World War II and saw action from Africa to Berlin. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)
TILTON — Gov. Chris Sununu, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan and U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster participated in Patriot Day services at the New Hampshire Veterans Home on Tuesday, paying tribute to the victims and families of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the ensuing conflicts and recounting stories of both horrors and heroes.
“Imagine through the smoke, dust and mist firefighters hoisting the flag above the last piece of the tower. It speaks to what the flag means to us individually and to the nation,” said Sununu.
A section of a steel I-beam from one of the towers twisted from the intense heat was at the edge of the stage. The commemorative piece was given to the town of Goffstown, but has twice traveled to the New Hampshire Veterans Home to be displayed.
Past generations spoke of the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, Sununu said, this generation will remember their parents speaking of 9/11 and the people who put their lives on the line to help others.
“Every day is a gift and that can change in the blink of an eye. Today is a day of remembrance of what those freedoms are all about and those who protect them,” he said.
Senator Hassan told those who attended the ceremonies that is was important to rededicate ourselves to the ideals that make the country great and to remember all those who rushed toward danger to help others.
Hassan recounted the images of the terror attacks on television and said they stood in stark contrast to the peaceful and cloudless day experienced in New Hampshire 17 years ago.
Hassan quoted General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s message to the troops on D-Day, June 6, 1944: “The hopes and prayers of a liberty loving people everywhere march with you.” She said those same sentiments have been passed on to successive generations and the country as a whole today.
“What Americans do when challenged is to come together and every generation has taken up that mantle and the values that we stand up to bullies and tyrants everywhere. We are a strong and determined nation that stands for freedom and will continue to do so.”
Rep. Kuster said the terrorist attacks of 9/11 have become part of America’s collective memory much like the day President John F. Kennedy was felled by an assassin’s bullet in Dallas, Texas, in 1963.
“For many of you an incident like this got you to World War II, Korea, Vietnam, or Iraq,” Kuster told the many veterans in the audience, thanking them for their service. “You fought for us, now we’re fighting for you,” she said, noting her service on the Veterans Affairs Committee.
New Hampshire’s adjutant general, Brig. Gen. David Mikolaities, said he frequently asks young soldiers to name the best gift their parents ever gave them. While some say a car, or one even a family vacation, he tells them the greatest gift is their citizenship. He said he reminds them of all the people who desire to be a citizen of the United States.
State Sen. Bob Giuda, a retired Marine, recounted that his father had been stationed at Pearl Harbor and that his father-in-law had helped rescue the survivors of Bataan. And he said that working as a pilot for American Airlines during 9/11 he lost two friends — a fellow pilot and flight crew member he had worked with. “They took implements of mass transportation and turned them into implements of mass destruction,” he said.