Two words have become synonymous with September 11th and those who've served on Fort Drum since. Never Forget. Each month, Fort Drum hosts a ceremony to honor soldiers who've paid the ultimate price in the war on terror. Every summer, those soldiers are forever enshrined in Memorial Park. As part of his weeklong series, our Brian Dwyer takes a look at these ceremonies and why they're so important to soldiers, families and the nation.
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- "As long as you keep the names of these men and women in your thoughts, they'll live on," former Fort Drum Commanding General James Campbell said during a ceremony in 2009. "They'll live on in their spirit, their motivation, their inspiration. And the greatest countries in the world honor those who fought and sacrificed, and this country is the best at that."
Forever to be remembered. The names of nearly 300 soldiers etched on the plaques of Memorial Park on Fort Drum. New names added every summer during the post's annual Mountain Remembrance Ceremony.
"When I came up here, we didn't have anything like 'Hero's Wall'," Col (Ret.) Mike Plummer, now the 10th Mountain Division Assoc. President said. "The 10th Mountain Division Association said we needed something like that and so we've crafted it so that every single name of someone who has died in action or died in combat theatre will always be remembered."
"They didn't have to go into the service," Fort Drum USO Ambassador Mary Parry said. "They didn't have to do any of the things they've done. They did it for their country and for their honor and they gave their life. We can't forget them."
The post also hosts smaller events each month. They all give the community and fellow soldiers a chance to pay their respects but maybe more importantly a chance for families to know what their loved one meant.
"It makes you, families feel a whole lot better when the Army honors and remembers. It shows us that your loved one wasn't just another soldier, that they were real important to them," Fred Moore Jr., the brother of a fallen soldier said after the Mountain Remembrance Ceremony in June of 2009.
"It brings closure to the family members to know that even thought their loved one has passed on that his name or her name is going to be forever enshrined on 'Hero's Wall' and people will always remember what he or she did and why they did it," Plummer added.
And it's these events that many say can serve as a blatant reminder to not let these sacrifices be in vein.
"They have, they say, made the ultimate sacrifice," Plummer said. "But they're sitting there in their graves and they're looking at us saying okay, I made the sacrifice, what have you done with the time with the freedom that I bought for you with my life. We need to be able to look ourselves in the mirror also and say, 'hey, I've done all I possibly cold to take care of soldiers, take care of soldiers' families or to take care of the families of those who have made the loss."
Now along with the lives lost, Fort Drum also makes sure to preserve its history as well. The new 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum museum not only shows what life was like before 9/11, but it also helps soldiers better prepare for the wars that will follow.
Monday, in the final part of his series, Brian will take us through the museum and explain how it's helping history from repeating itself.