William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital
Remembering September 11th
No matter where they were early on a bright mid-September morning 10 years ago, most Americans will never forget what happened Sept. 11, 2001 in Lower Manhattan, on the banks of the Potomac River in Arlington, Va., or on the site of a reclaimed coal mine in Stonycreek Township outside Shanksville, Penn. Nearly 3,000 innocent victims were killed in the attacks.
The horrifying moments are burned into our memories.
But Sept. 11, 2001 didn’t end when the sun came up the next morning. Rescue efforts at the World Trade Center site continued for several days before they transitioned to recovery efforts that lasted many more months and it took a full year to repair damage to the Pentagon. There was precious little to recover from the United Airlines flight 93 crash site in southern Pennsylvania, where a temporary memorial was built in the months that followed and a permanent memorial is scheduled to be dedicated on the 10th anniversary.
In the weeks that followed 911, heroic law enforcement officers and firefighters handed off the response mission to new heroes — men and women of our nation’s armed forces — who defeated the terrorist-harboring Taliban regime in Afghanistan in an action that began Oct. 7, 2001 and continues to this day. In early 2003 a U.S.-led military coalition invaded Iraq and toppled the Saddam Hussein regime amid fears — based on what later proved to be faulty intelligence reports — that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction to use against the west. U.S. forces still remain in Iraq, though their numbers are fewer as the mission there winds down.
In the ten years since 9-11, more than a million young and not-so-young Americans became our nation’s newest generation of combat veterans. Veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq are now among our hospital’s valued patients and we are honored to serve these exceptional Americans with exceptional health care.
When you remember September 11 on this tenth anniversary, remember not only those who perished on that day, but also those responders who later died from their exposure to toxic rubble or who still suffer from the lingering effects. Remember, too, more than 6,000 members of the U.S. armed forces lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, many thousand more who suffered battlefield injuries, and 1.4 million men and women who served in harm’s way during the past 10 years.