9/13/2013 -- YORBA LINDA, Calif. – Twelve years have passed since 19 hijackers caused one of America’s most tragic moments and shaped the events of history. It is on this day, September 11th, that the nation comes together to remember the innocent men, women and children who lost their lives and the brave men and women who have worn the uniform since that horrific Tuesday.
To commemorate those Americans, Brig. Gen. Vincent A. Coglianese, commanding general, 1st Marine Logistics Group, delivered a speech at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, Sept. 11, 2013. The Richard Nixon Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about the life and legacy of the former president of the United States.
A pastor delivered the invocation to start the ceremony and was followed by the presentation of colors by members of the Orange County Fire Authority. The Pledge of Allegiance was delivered by Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Braman, a Pentagon first responder on 9/11. After this, speeches were given by the Deputy Special Assistant to President Nixon, Bruce Herschensohn, and the commanding general.
“Today is a sacred day that we honor those Americans we lost on 11 September, 2001,” said Brig. Gen. Coglianese. “Many have sacrificed to protect this nation. Today we honor the memories and reflect upon the lives of nearly 3,000 men and women who were murdered that tragic day. We also honor more than five thousand service members who have given their lives in the defense of this freedom since 9/11 and more than 51,000 have been wounded since that.”
The commanding general did not forget to mention the loved ones of the casualties and the bravery of the first responders.
“We also acknowledge all the family members and friends who still grieve their loss,” said Brig. Gen. Coglianese. “We’re here to commemorate the selflessness and the great deeds of the first responders who instead of running from the chaos ran toward it. Firefighters, policemen, service members, rescue workers, ordinary citizens, in the desire to help, paid the ultimate sacrifice. We also honor the great passengers of United Flight 93 who stepped up and took action to subdue the hijackers and as a result, they saved lives.”
The Nixon Foundation invites senior leadership from Camp Pendleton every year to speak during the ceremony. Last year Maj. Gen. Melvin Spiese, former commanding general of 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade, spoke during the commemoration.
The ceremony was also a time to reflect on the present. Brave members of the U.S. military continue to serve overseas. The general wanted to make it clear that the Marines will continue to fight for America.
“Your Marine Corps will continue to bring the fight to our enemies so we can preserve the freedom that this nation cherishes,” said Brig. Gen. Coglianese. “Your Marine Corps will be ready when the nation is least ready. As General Mattis said, ‘There is no better friend and no better enemy than a United States Marine.’”
Somberly, the ceremony was concluded when the Fire Authority sounded the “last alarm,” a bell-ringing that symbolizes the end of firefighters duties and is often played at funerals. This was accompanied by the pipes and drums band that played “Amazing Grace.”
Brig. Gen. Coglianese ended, “Thank you again, for allowing me the privilege to participate in this solemn ceremony. At events like this we take homage and remind ourselves of the great sacrifices made in securing our freedom. God bless the United States and Semper Fidelis.”