America's AOC remembers 9/11
By Airman 1st Class Sergio A. Gamboa, 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 16, 2015
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 tragic events occurred in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. It was a day no American will ever forget.
Every year, Americans unite to honor and remember those fallen heroes, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, police officers and firefighters, and all other victims of the terror attacks.
The 601st Air and Space Operations Center holds a 9/11 memorial ceremony to honor all those people. Known as "America's AOC," the 601st AOC has grown exponentially as a direct response to the attacks. It has worked continuously since then ensuring America's airspace stays safe.
"We honor those by taking a moment to remember them, their families and their loved ones," said Col. John Ferry, 601st AOC commander. "We also honor them by acknowledging the unwavering dedication that we, the 601st AOC, displayed and continue to display in support of our mission, keeping a 24/7 watch of our nation."
In 2007, the 601st built a 9/11 memorial that features twisted steel from the floors of the World Trade Center's Tower Two, scorched limestone from the damaged face of the Pentagon and chiseled segments of flagstone from a Pennsylvania quarry.
"It is our duty to remember," Ferry said. "Today serves as a reminder that some will never see their loved ones again. Also, it serves as a reminder to our nations, of the U.S. and Canada's, great resolve and the acts of heroism that took place on that day and every day thereafter."
During the ceremony, the national anthems of the United States and Canada were sung, a moment a silence was held for the courageous acts of the passengers on Flight 97 and the lives lost in all the attacks. A rendition of "Amazing Grace" was played on a bagpipe by Kathy McCurdy, Bay County Sherriff's Office deputy, and the ceremony was concluded by a speech from Ferry.
"We must realize that as those memories fade away, the 601st AOC, and this memorial serves to remind all of us, and those that visit, of the importance of keeping our nation safe," Ferry said during his speech. "We must never forget why we are here."
Ferry concluded with the famous ending to President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
"It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."