Dover Air Force Base ceremony recalls day that changed America

DOVER — Every couple weeks Dover Air Force Base Commander Col. Michael Grismer is reminded of 9/11 and how it still resonates.

According to Col. Grismer, at least a member or two of an arriving airmen group regularly cite the day of terrorist aggression by Islamic extremists on Sept. 11, 2001, as why they joined the military.

Fourteen years ago many new recruits had just started school when hijacked jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C. and crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Other recruits may not have been kindergarten age at that point.

Speaking after Friday morning’s third annual Sept. 11 memorial service at the DAFB’s Air Mobility Command Museum, Col. Grismer said he’s heartened by the new recruits’ patriotism related to an event they likely barely remember, if at all.

Now 28, Staff Sgt. Rocky Vazquez has a vivid memory of 9/11, which he said was the final push to join the military.

“It’s why I joined,” said Sgt. Vazquez, who served as master of ceremonies at the service and was a sixth-grader in Lafayette, Indiana, when the attacks occurred.

“Seeing all the constant images (on television) ticked me off. I always wanted to do it and this definitely gave me a reason to go in and actually do it,” he said.

During the service a wreath donated by Pippin Funeral Home was laid at a 9/11 memorial that includes steel from the World Trade Center. The Mid-Del Sax Quartet from Milford played the National Anthem. The DAFB Honor Guard arrived with two axes, two rifles and two flags.

A huge United States flag was tethered between the ladders of the Dover and Little Creek fire departments, and an airman provided the commands of five bell strikes repeated four times in memory of those who died on 9/11.

A civilian at the time, Base Chaplain Capt. Quentin Genke said he was in Alexandria, Virginia, on Sept. 11 and saw smoke rising from the Pentagon.

While speaking before the gathered crowd of Air Force members and civilians on Friday, Capt. Genke said 9/11 was “an immensely powerful date that forever changed the fabric of this country.” Nearly 3,000 people died in connection with the crashes that day.

Also, he said, “From the ashes of destruction rose a new spirit of national patriotism.”

The event was hosted by the DAFB Eagle Fire Fighters Association

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