By Gerald Williams, Bayonet & Saber /
Fort Benning Soldiers conducted a four-mile run Sept. 9 on Fort Benning in honor of Soldiers, first responders and loved ones who lost their lives during and since the 9/11 attack 15 years ago.
The run began at 5:30 a.m. at York Field where the Maneuver Center of Excellence band played in anticipation for the event.
MCoE Commanding General Maj. Gen. Eric Wesley stated that there was no place he’d rather be than with the Soldiers on the run.
“There are two reasons why we are doing this today,” said Wesley. “The first reason is to honor those souls who have gone before us since 9/11. On Sept. 11, 2001, 2,977 Americans died in that event. Four hundred and eight of them were firemen. Eighty-three of them were police officers. Since that time, including those numbers, 10,008 Americans have died fighting terror. Our purpose today is to honor those souls who have died in that venture.”
“The other reason why we are running today, is because of the resilience, the persistence, the discipline and the fortitude of our nation that continues to outlast any kind of tragedy like that,” said Wesley. “This run is about those who continue to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before us. Today, we want to honor men and women just like you in this formation.”
Soldiers in the run reminisced about the moment they heard about the 9/11 attack and how it impacted them.
“9/11 was a real significant event that changed a lot of things,” said Staff Sgt. Ronald Metoyer, Task Force 1-28. “It’s actually one of the reasons why I joined the Army. To make a difference. I wanted to be a part of the cause.”
“I was in the car business when it happened,” said Metoyer. “I just remember watching it on T.V. at a car dealership in Florida. I come from a family of Soldiers, so it just made me want to go ahead and be a part of something great.”
“I was in Fort McPherson, Atlanta, when it happened,” recalled Staff Sgt. Micheal Hazely, 463rd Veterinary Services, 14th Combat Support Hospital.
“There were people there who were from New York City when it happened,” said Hazely. “They were calling their friends and family to make sure they were okay. I remember feeling that the moment was so surreal.”
“Compared to past years, we’ve always fought on foreign soil, but it was an eerie feeling when I realized that someone could bring the fight to us,” said Hazely. “In the 60s and 70s, we had our guard up due to the Soviet Union. After the Berlin Wall came down though, it felt like we were the last big superpower in the world. So who was our enemy? We felt relaxed. So when 9/11 happened, in our own backyard, I could only imagine if New York City was vulnerable, what could happen to any other city?”
View more photos of the run at fortbenningphotos.com.