09/12/17 — Seymour Johnson honors heroes, remembers 9/11

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Seymour Johnson honors heroes, remembers 9/11

By Joey Pitchford
Published in News on September 12, 2017 5:50 AM

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Fourth Fighter Wing Commander Col. Christopher Sage addresses the audience during the 9/11 remembrance ceremony at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base honored the memories of those lost during the September 11, 2001, attacks -- both civilians and the first responders who came to their aid -- at its annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony Monday morning.

Sean Quinby, SJAFB fire chief, organized the ceremony. The base has held it for the last 10 years, he said, as a way to keep the events of 9/11 from fading from memory.

"The intent of this is not necessarily to retell the story of the day, but more just to go over the events and facts," he said. "It's been 16 years, and I suddenly find myself in charge of a band of firefighters who put themselves in harm's way to help others, just like so many did on September 11."

Gathered at the fire station near the flight line, dozens of attendees sat in chairs or on bleachers. They listened as Maj. JohnPaul Adrian, 4th Security Forces Squadron commander, spoke first.

"We are here today to come together as a community, as a family and as a nation," he said. "This is a time for us to remember where we were on that day. For many of us, it is something we will never forget."

Adrian praised law enforcement and other first responders who came to the aid of those in need on 9/11, and said that the responsibilities of those first responders has changed since then.

"Our police officers, who once focused on what keeping us safe from what you would consider 'local crime' are now part of our counter terrorism teams, both against our home-grown terrorists and those who come across our borders." he said. "Our firefighters, who before would not enter areas where bullets were flying or there was the threat of explosion because they had people who would do that for them, are now members of our team, they're embedded with us."

Col. Christopher Sage, 4th Fighter Wing commander, spoke second. He told the story of how the 9/11 attacks changed the course of his life. He had been night-flying that day, and was at home when a friend called and told him to turn on the TV.

He did so just in time to see the second plane hit the South Tower.

"It was at that moment that many of us realized that this was not an accident. We were under attack," he said. "It was at that moment that my plans to separate from the United States Air Force were put on the shelf, and it is for that reason that I stand before you today."

Following a short video showing images from the attacks and their aftermath, Quinby took the podium. He spoke about the lasting impact 9/11 had on American culture.

"Can any of you remember a world where September 11 was just another day?" he said. "It's hard to believe that today marks the 16th anniversary. What started as just another day ended with the loss of 2,997 citizens from over 90 countries."

Following his speech, Quinby struck a bell nine times -- three sets of three strikes -- as a final alarm to remember the firefighters who gave their lives. That alarm was followed by a 21-gun salute from the SJAFB honor guard, which signaled the end of the ceremony.