On 11 September 2001 2,996 people were killed by terrorist attacks. 246 of those killed were passengers on the four crashed commercial aircraft. 2,606 died in the towers of the World Trade Center. 125 died at the Pentagon. The victims included 343 NYFD firefighters and 71 police officers. 19 of those killed were the terrorists (may they rot in hell).

 

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: Artifacts from Ground Zero are viewed during a preview of the National September 11 Memorial Museum on May 14, 2014 in New York City. The long awaited museum will open to the public on May 21 following a six-day dedication period for 9/11 families, survivors, first responders, workers, and local city residents. For the dedication period the doors to the museum will be open for 24-hours a day from May 15 through May 20. On Thursday President Barack Obama and the first lady will attend the dedication ceremony for the opening of the museum. While the construction of the museum has often been fraught with politics and controversy, the exhibitions and displays seek to pay tribute to the 2,983 victims of the 9/11 attacks and the 1993 bombing while also educating the public on the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Photos: 9-11 Memorial Museum artifacts on display. 

Most Americans watched the second plane as it flew into the second tower. At that moment we knew we were under attack. And that morning “9/11” was burned into the collective consciousness of America as much as is “Remember the Alamo” and “Remember Pearl Harbor,” and most certainly we will never forget 9/11.

9/11 ignited the Global War On Terror. As of 10 September, 2015, 6,828 U.S. military service members have died and 52,317 have been wounded, many grievously so, in the Global War On Terror during deployments to OEF, OIF and OND. Our coalition partners in countries like Canada, Australia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Germany, New Zealand, and the UK have also sacrificed tremendously. While the numbers above might seem low in comparison to other conflicts, they reflect great sacrifice, and our resolve to stand and fight for freedom.

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Photos: US SOCOM Memorial

9/11 forever changed U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) and re-shaped the U.S. Department of Defense. We were forced to retool and retrain our forces for a type of warfare for which most soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen were not trained, and thrown into situations in which they had to adapt immediately.

Many Special Operations units were prepared for this type of warfare, but still faced unanticipated struggles. Within Army Special Forces there has been a struggle between the proponents of Direct Action and those of Unconventional Warfare, between kicking doors and winning hearts and minds, between drinking tea and raiding villages. And we have come to realize that both are necessary, in the right times and places.

9/11 changed warfare, for us and globally. Asymmetrical and unconventional warfare are facts of our lives now. No one can deny that. But, U.S. Special Operations, and the entire U.S. military, are better trained, armed and prepared than any military force in the history of mankind.

9/11 also changed U.S. culture. We now all know that they will come at us by any cowardly means that they can devise and that we must and will remain vigilant and ready for whatever comes. We know we must remain the gleaming beacon of liberty for the world and are willing to take any measure to achieve that.

The wounds and grief from 9/11 are still open and strong for many. But this country was built upon, amongst other things, much grief and sacrifice. These things are not strangers to us. We have sustained much in our past and will sustain more in our future. And no matter how our enemies come at us, and how determined they are to destroy us, we will stand, and adapt, and we will not be overcome.

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Photo: US SOCOM Parachute Team

We have been hurt, but not defeated. We have been tricked, but have learned. We have faced the changes and have adapted. We are stronger. We will become even stronger.

To all our brothers and sisters in arms who gave all, we will never forget.

So, bring it on.

 

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