Distribution Patriot Day and POW/MIA Day event honors those that gave all

By Emily Tsambiras DLA Distribution Public Affairs

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In remembrance of the 17th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, DLA Distribution hosted a Patriot Day ceremony on Sept. 11 featuring guest speaker Army Col. James Carmichael.

While the third Friday in September is nationally recognized as POW/MIA Day, the event also served as a remembrance of those listed as a Prisoner of War or Missing in Action.

Master of Ceremonies Army Master Sgt. Kevin Davis opened the ceremony saying “On September 4, 2002, President George W. Bush proclaimed this day a day to celebrate the dedicated service of the men and women who defend this nation and provide for its freedom.  We also come together today in remembrance of the sacrifice of those killed, missing in action and taken prisoner while serving to defend this country.  Let us not forget, freedom is not free.”

Following a performance of the National Anthem by Matt Williams, DLA Distribution Future Operations deputy, and invocation delivered by Army Chaplain Jerry Sieg, Carmichael recounted his memories of that fateful day to the audience.

Serving as company commander of an Army Reserve Ammunition unit while maintaining a full-time civilian job as an Environmental, Health and Safety professional for a mining and road construction company in Ohio, Carmichael says many thoughts raced through his mind when he received word of a terrorist attack in New York City.  “I faced many challenges.  The first humbling challenge: ‘Am I going to be strong enough to do the right thing?’”

He called his Senior Non-Commissioned Officer-in-Charge who advised him to contact his soldiers and “do not overreact and make sure that we are ready for whatever may come as the guidance from leadership is received.”

The rest of the day, Carmichael recounted, was spent making and receiving phone calls, trying to anticipate the country’s next step.  “This is what we as Americans are about: commitment through strength and resiliency for the future, as we could not anticipate the scope and duration for what would follow.”

By evening, as he awaited President Bush’s first televised address to the nation regarding the event, he remembers trying to calm his small children, who were still reeling from the excitement of the day and begging to watch Barney, not the news.

When the new day dawned, Carmichael says he was inspired and motivated by what he saw: a nation that was rising above the tragedy and banning together to fight.  “The nation was shocked and shaken but [was] resolute, strong and committed,” he said.

Carmichael said his resulting deployments for the fight against terrorism reshaped his career focus and his pride in his nation. 

“It's been my honor to represent the USA. My experience has tested my courage.  You share that honor and courage with me.  Proof that America, when tested, responds with caring, strength, and determination.”

Upon the conclusion of Carmichael’s remarks, at 8:46 a.m.- the time the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center- a moment of silence was observed.

A field cross ceremony was then performed by the William H. Noss American Legion Post 143’s Sons of the American Legion and the American Legion Riders followed by the playing of Taps.  The field cross ceremony first began during the American Civil War and was used to mark the site of field burials that could later be documented or retrieved. 

As the last notes of Taps died out, Davis ended the ceremony saying, “As we depart for our duty locations, or wherever our journey may take us, let us not forget the tragic loss of life that occurred 17 years ago, on September 11th, 2001, nor the sacrifices of our military and first responders in service to our country.”