On Sept. 9, 2016, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria — which includes Army installations at Garmisch, Grafenwoehr, Hohenfels and Vilseck — observed Patriot Day. The President designated Sept. 11 of each year as “Patriot Day” to remember those killed and injured in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. On this day, the President directs that the American flag be flown at half-staff. More info at www.army.mil/PatriotDay. More photos of Patriot Day events available here.
The USAG Bavaria Garrison Commander, Col. Lance Varney, delivered remarks at a wreath laying ceremony near the 172nd Infantry Brigade Memorial on Tower Barracks. Below are his remarks.
Good morning and welcome. I would like to begin by thanking everyone for your attendance—your presence here serves as testimony to the importance of why we gather today.
Certainly we will never forget the September tragedy that so shook our Nation’s core — now 15 years ago. On a day that began like so many others—a clear blue American sky was pierced by billowing black smoke as a wave of grief crashed over us and the world.
But — as you all know, in this, one of our darkest hours, Americans summoned the strength and courage to carry on—and out of this horrible devastation emerged the best of our humanity and our resolve.
Therefore, each year on September 11, our Congress has designated the observance of Patriot Day.
Consequently, it is appropriate that we take a few moments today to not only mark this solemn anniversary, but also reflect on what the day means and renew our commitment to honor and remember those who lost all or suffered as a result of the attacks to our nation.
We honor those nearly three thousand men, women, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, who lost their lives due to the deliberate act of terrorism on September 11, 2001.
We also remember the more than six thousand service members who, as Abraham Lincoln so eloquently remarks, gave their “last full measure of devotion,” as well as tens of thousands of our wounded warriors, and the Gold Star families of our fallen heroes. At the moment of greatest danger, they — like us here in attendance — willingly chose to put themselves in harm’s way in defense of our great nation.
This combined and very profound sacrifice is and never will be forgotten. To that end, I ask that we take a moment of silence to pause and internally reflect on all those who have sacrificed all and those who still suffer.
That day’s destruction and devastation did not condemn this country to a future filled with fear as intended. No, this loss, as profound as it was, did not break the soul of this nation.
It made us stronger.
9/11 changed more than the skyline of New York City. The attacks changed a generation of Americans, our Army and our world.
In the face of great terror, we, along with numerous other nations — Germany certainly included — quickly adapted, and addressed our adversary.
Perhaps closer to home or more relative to us, our all-volunteer force, which is now a clearly a cohesive Total Army, gained a depth of experience and achieved a level of versatility that remains unmatched. We will tirelessly continue to contribute and lead in matters of global peace and security.
I know that I don’t have to explain that to you all, especially as we further support on going Strong Europe initiatives.
Upon personal reflection on 9/11, Patriot Day, there is a thought that I would like to share with you all this morning:
Despite this volatile, complex and unpredictable environment and the challenges that we will face as a nation, there is at least one thing is absolutely certain: We will always prevail.
There is a simple reason why we happen to be very fortunate in that we inherited an overall concept or what you might classify as this “Idea of America.” I refer to the underlying set of our national core values — Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness. We hold that these are not merely words from the founding fathers — they are in fact principles that form and will continue to provide the cornerstone for our nation.
These values explain not only who we are — but more importantly — why we exist and the lengths that we as a nation will go to preserve our way of live.
This “Idea of America” has been tested many times, as it surely was on 9/11, but is has never failed, never shattered. It endures today due to the efforts of the men and women who have gone before us to defend and support it: patriots, heroes.
It is up to us to maintain this legacy just as you do on a daily basis through your service.
I don’t know about you, but as I reflect on Patriot Day and what the word Patriot means — placing one’s country before self and personal ambitions — I can’t help thinking about the ideals enshrined within our Constitution. This is why we are here today and it is also why we voluntarily raise our right hand and “bear true faith and allegiance.”
So I close with a gentle suggestion: No matter how eloquent my or any other Patriot Day remembrance remarks may be, they are soon forgotten. Therefore I submit to you, that it is through our individual and consistent personal actions that we demonstrate and honor the magnitude of what 9/11 means to our great nation.
I feel certain that there are many Patriots here today that have personal connections with the events of 9/11 and the war on terror—whether it be Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom or both.
I encourage everyone, myself included, to strive to embody the enduring principles of patriotism — not just today or this Sunday, the 11th, but every day — in a manner that truly honors those who have gone before us and our nation. In short, be the example that others will follow toward preserving what we hold dear.
Thank you for your attention and for attending today’s ceremony.