By Jess Dupree, Maneuver Center of Excellence Public Affairs
COLUMBUS, Ga. (Oct. 17, 2017) – The National Infantry Museum hosted service members and veterans to dedicate the first Global War on Terrorism memorial here during a ceremony at the museum yesterday.
The ceremony included guest speakers who served in the war, including Maj. Gen. Eric Wesley, the commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, Georgia.
“Memorials are symbols of those who have gone before us.” Wesley said while describing the monument to the audience. “Symbols are important.”
The memorial includes a map of terrorist events leading up to the attacks of Sept. 11, a steel beam that was pulled from the wreckage of the north tower of the twin towers, and several walls with the names of almost 7,000 service members who have died. Some of the walls are left blank, as the war is still ongoing. Wesley said an annual ceremony is planned to add names to the memorial.
“We pray these walls never reach capacity,” he said.
At the center of the memorial is a bronze figure of Spc. Ross McGinnis, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. He is surrounded by eight additional bronze figures, who represent an infantry squad together with McGinnis as their leader. McGinnis’ parents were among the Gold Star families in attendance for the event.
“What would our country be without such men and women who gave their lives?” said Gen. (ret.) John Abizaid, who has served a combined 54 months in combat zones as deputy commander and combatant commander of U.S. Central Command. “But for those who fight for such rights, none of us could expect to enjoy them.”
The Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade out of Fort Benning flew three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to conclude the ceremony with a “missing man flyby,” a military tradition in which aircraft are flown in formation with an empty slot symbolizing the missing man. Afterward, members of the audience were invited to walk through the memorial.
“It was very touching,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Ebony Peele, a sailor attached to Naval Operational Support Center Atlanta. “Just seeing the number of names is incredibly humbling.”
View more photos on FortBenningPhotos.com.