Local active duty and emergency services members shared their reasons for joining the military, their 9/11 memories, and the significance of the day during a Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance ceremony Sept. 11.
The group of 12 local heroes included Soldiers from McAfee U.S. Army Health Clinic and the 2nd Engineer Battalion, members from the Navy and Air Force, and White Sands Missile Range firefighters.
“Unfortunately, we are not able to have every active duty Soldier, Sailor, Airman, firefighter, or emergency service member here today to pay tribute. We will all agree, however, every first responder, firefighter and those in uniform are already heroes in the eyes of many,” said Recreational Specialist Brent Jones during the introduction.
Each individual was in a different place in their life at the time during Sept. 11, 2001. Some were children who could not grasp the severity of the events. Others were already serving in the military. No matter what their background was, however, the common themes in the testimonies were the need to make a difference and a feeling of respect for military and emergency services members.
“I joined the Army after 9/11. It was something that really touched my heart,” said Staff Sgt. Henry Cordero, 2nd Engineer Battalion. “I looked at myself and looked at my moral compass… and I said, ‘Who’s going to make a difference in this world? Who’s going to do something?’”
Cordero remembered hearing the news of the attacks during his day off from his sales job at the time. He was 30 years old and decided if someone was going to make a difference it was going to be him.
“A couple of weeks after the events of 9/11, I decided to go to an Army recruiter,” Cordero said. “I chose to serve, to go out there, and help defeat an enemy who I thought was a bully.”
Eric Carrasco, WSMR firefighter, spoke about his experience volunteering with the El Paso Fire Department prior to working with the WSMR Fire Department. Carrasco remembered responding to his first call, which involved a non-responsive six-month-old infant. He said that is when he knew he wanted to pursue a career as a firefighter.
Carrasco remembered being in high school during 9/11 and watching the events unfold on television. He said that day was a testament of the country’s strength.
“It brought everybody together as a nation; from Soldiers, to the firefighters, to the police, to the civilian. The country brought itself back together and stood up,” Carrasco said.
At the end of the remembrance, attendees greeted the local heroes and wrote down where they were during Sept. 11, 2001 on a tribute that will be displayed at the Community Center.