WAFB Leader Praises Values That Emerged in Wake of 9/11
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Sept.12, 2013) – Brig. General Thomas A. Bussiere, commander of the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, this week told a gathering at the University of Central Missouri that students born after Sept. 11, 2001 must learn about the strong values demonstrated by Americans who came together in the wake of the attacks on U.S. soil.
Bussiere’s remarks were part of the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance in honor of individuals who lost their lives in the 9/11 tragedy. The ceremony took place at the UCM quadrangle, and was jointly coordinated by UCM’s Office of Military and Veteran Services, with Scott Ammon, assistant professor of safety sciences, and the university’s Army ROTC battalion. In addition to the general’s remarks, the ceremony included brief comments by UCM President Charles Ambrose, and participation from local first responders.
After reading a proclamation from U.S. President Barack Obama, Bussiere reminded the gathering that within a few years new students at UCM will not have lived through the 9/11 tragedy.
“As time passes, the importance of remembering the little details of our personal experiences will only grow. In just a few years, this university will begin accepting students who were too young to understand or remember the attacks of 9/11,” he said. “A few years after that, young adults who were not yet born on the day of the attacks will be walking across the same greens where we now stand.
“What will we tell those young men and women, for whom our most wrenching national experience is not even a memory? Whose only knowledge of that grim day comes from history books, or watching replays of the CNN broadcast that showed United Airlines flight 175 crashing into the South Tower of the World Trade Center?”
“I have a few ideas for what to tell them,” Bussiere said. “First, I would tell them to look around at their fellow students, hundreds of whom are veterans of our conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Right now, as we speak, more than 800 veterans or their dependents are enrolled as students of the University of Central Missouri. This is a tremendous increase from just a few years ago, and the reasons for that increase speak to some of the greatest traits of our national character.”
He noted that at the end of World War II, Congress established the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, now known as the GI Bill. It has enabled millions of American veterans to attend college and build a better life for themselves and their families.
“Just a few years ago, our nation updated the GI Bill with a new array of benefits to make sure our veterans had the same opportunity to attend universities around the country. Today, hundreds of your fellow students are here, learning and growing, because eof the generous support of the American people for our veterans,” Bussiere said.
“But in the years following Sept. 11 and the attacks, some universities have gone the extra mile to provide support for veterans and their families. The University of Central Missouri, this community, this family, is one such institution, and our veterans and Team Whiteman really appreciate it,” Bussiere said.
“Whether it’s the creation of the Military and Veterans Success Center to offer support for student veterans, or the Military Tuition Package created last year to ease the burden on our military families, the University of Central Missouri has led the way in supporting the needs of our military and our veteran community,” Bussiere said.
He added that it “has become a cliché that the world has changed since Sept. 11, 2001, but that is the simple truth.”
“No one could have predicted on Sept. 10, 2001 just how different the world would be that very next day. No one could have predicted the lives cut short and lives lost at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon or in the fields of Pennsylvania. No one could have seen what the future or even today would hold. But like Americans going back through history, we meet those challenges head on.
“Our nation makes many sacrifices, but today our nation stands just as strong and just as determined as it did on Sept. 10, 2001.
“I would offer to you it is not the military that makes this country strong, although I think they play a part in it. What make America strong are the values that we hold dear, values that exemplify every time I visit this campus, where students and faculty alike have gone to such great lengths to make their veterans feel welcome.
“A few years from now, when a new class arrives with no living memory of 9/11, that is what we must tell them. Not just the story of terrorists attacking our nation, but the story of how our persistence, our sacrifice, and above all our values defeated those same terrorists. That is what we must remember for them.”