I was asked to deliver remarks at a memorial ride to remember the victims who perished on September 11, 2001, in Clinton Township, PA. These are the thoughts I am going to share with those attending and I wanted to share the remarks with you too.

It is an honor for me to be here with all of you for the 22nd Annual Memorial Ride to remember those we lost on that terrible Tuesday morning 22 years ago.

I want to thank Michael Seitzer and Tank Baird for inviting me to be here.

On September 11, 2001, I, like many of you, woke up to a gorgeous late summer morning in Pennsylvania. The sun was shining brightly, and it just felt good to be alive.

I was expecting a very busy day. I kissed my wife Berti goodbye and headed off to the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Airport. I jumped on a flight at about 7:30 a.m. bound for Chicago. I was managing a project for a large utility company and had to be there for a few meetings.

When our plane landed at O’Hare Airport sometime after 9 am our pilot announced there was a backup at the gate and we would be on the plane a little longer. I did not think this was unusual. I had flown into O’Hare Airport quite a bit and backlogs and delays were normal.

My world as I knew it changed a few minutes later, just as your world did when I turned on my phone and received a call from my wife Berti. She told me what had happened.

I spent the week in Chicago unable to concentrate on my civilian work duties. I ended up driving back to Pennsylvania in a rental car I was able to get my hands on. Of course, all flights throughout the United States were shut down for days after the attack.

The official death toll from those attacks on September 11th was 2,977. At the World Trade Center in New York City, 2,753 people died, of whom 343 were firefighters. The death toll at the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., was 184, and 40 people died outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

 Along with my civilian job as a management consultant, I served in the Pennsylvania National Guard. My duty position at the time was the Brigade Commander of the 55th Brigade headquartered in Scranton, PA.

I was honored to have the opportunity to take 2,000 of my Soldiers over to Europe in early 2002 to protect US Army installations in Germany, Italy, Belgium, and The Netherlands.

And then in 2005, I had the honor to lead 5,000 Soldiers and Marines as part of the 2nd Brigade, 28th Infantry Division. We conducted combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq. The environment was tough as we battled the insurgents there including Al Qaeda in Iraq. During our one year of fighting in Iraq 82 of my Soldiers, Marines, and Sailors paid the ultimate price.

As we look back at the wars we fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of United States troops who have died fighting in those wars had passed 7,000 at the end of 2019.

 As you ride to remember this evening let us remember the civilians and firefighters who perished on SEP 11, 2001, and let’s also remember our brave military personnel who have died defending our nation since then.

 These numbers I provided can be overwhelming. The challenges we continue to face in our nation and throughout the world can be overwhelming too.  If we are not careful all of this can fill our hearts and souls with dread and sadness, but my message to you today is not meant to create a sense of hopelessness but rather to inspire a sense of duty to our nation.

 Throughout the almost 250 years of our nation’s history, every era has brought forth what was thought to be an insurmountable challenge. And every generation has conquered the adversity we have faced. I have no doubt that all of us will rise up and take on the challenges we are faced with today.

 When I think of the firefighters who perished on SEP 11th, the passengers of Flight 93 who fought the terrorists to their death over Shanksville, PA, and the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen who paid the ultimate price in Iraq and Afghanistan, I choose not to be saddened by the way these brave Americans died, but rather to be inspired by the way they chose to live.

 I was always moved by the depiction of the firefighter rising out of the ashes of the World Trade Center and passing on the American flag to a Soldier, as the Soldier looked into the eyes of the firefighter and said, I’ll take it from here.

 But you know, in the days, weeks, and months following September 11th,  it was not only the Soldier who said “I’ll take it from here.” Every citizen in our country rose to the occasion and every one of us, with one voice said, “We’ll take it from here”.

 We all rose to the challenge of that day – and we must continue to rise to the challenges that we face because that is who we are – We are Americans.

 The best way to honor the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for this country on September 11th, 2001, and the years since then, is to ensure that all of us remain “worthy” of their sacrifice.

We remain worthy of the sacrifice of our Fallen brothers and sisters by ensuring that every day we live up to the values of our country – those values of faith, patriotism, and service to others.

 I urge you to look for ways to unite with your fellow citizens. We have a diverse nation and that is one of our country’s strengths. But through that diversity, look for the things that unite us rather than the things that divide us. Look for the things we have in common rather than the things that set us apart. Let us not be divided by our uniqueness but united by our shared values.

 Do not fall victim to stereotyping fellow citizens based on the actions of a few.

 Take the time to honor and respect the people who make the sacrifice to serve us every day. That would be our military personnel along with our firefighters and especially our policemen.

We are a nation of laws, and we must respect the men and women serving in law enforcement, who have taken on the hard task of maintaining law and order along our streets and in our communities.

So in closing, thank you for coming together this evening to show that you will never forget. Thank you for remembering those events of September 11, 2001, and to pay respect to those who lost their lives. And let’s remember how our nation came together in what was one of our finest hours.

I am confident that due to your belief in our nation and belief in our values, we will have many more of our finest hours ahead.

 May God bless all of you and may God bless the United States of America

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