Hampton Union, Friday, September 12, 2008
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[Scott Yates Photo]
Gov. John Lynch joined other dignitaries last night in Hampton to speak about the Global War on Terror Memorial Monument in observation of the seventh anniversary of America's second day of infamy — the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
As a sober example of how close that day remains in our national consciousness, for the third time since the GWOT monument was unveiled on Sept. 11, 2006, more names will be added to the monument that bears the identities of every man and woman from New Hampshire who has died during military service in Iraq and Afghanistan since the 9/11 attacks.
The three names added to the monument this year are those of U.S. Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Nathan H. Hardy of Durham, U.S. Army Pfc. Juctin R.P. McDaniel of Andover and U.S. Army Spc. David S. Stelmat of Littleton. McDaniel was killed Dec. 17, 2007, at age 19 while serving in Iraq. Hardy died Feb. 8 at age 29 while serving in Afghanistan, and Stelmat was killed March 22 at age 27 while on duty in Iraq.
With the addition of Stelmat, McDaniel and Hardy — dedicated Americans who gave what Abraham Lincoln called "their last full measure of devotion" more than 30 names will be on the monument.
The monument in Hampton itself is a tribute not only to the fallen, but to local American Legion members who took the initiative to ensure these names would not be forgotten. In 2006, American Legion Post 35 Cmdr. Ralph Fatello visited the war memorials in Washington and decided there should be some kind of recognition for the sacrifices of this war's casualties now — not in 20 or 30 years.
Memories of the tragedy and trauma of what happened on 9/11 are never far away. Like the Japanese sneak attack on Dec. 7, 1941, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 9/11 reminds us how the world has changed — and sadly has not since the late summer day when 19 Islamic extremists hijacked four commercial aircraft. The hijackers flew them into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The brave passengers on United Flight 93 managed to overtake the hijackers on their flight, and their plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.
Unlike Pearl Harbor, the attack did not happen thousands of miles away, with only radio and newspaper reports filling in the information gaps. The 9/11 attacks were witnessed in real time, and the entire world watched almost 3,000 people die on American soil. Most were civilians who had little clue who killed them and why.
Earlier this summer, Cheryl McGuinness of Portsmouth traveled to Groton, Conn., to christen the USS New Hampshire, the Navy's newest attack submarine. McGuinness is the widow of Thomas McGuinness, the pilot of American Airlines Flight 11, one of the hijacked planes on 9/11.
In her remarks, McGuinness eloquently captured the spirit of the times when she called herself a "symbolic shadow" of the 9/11 tragedy, but one who felt honored with her duty.
"The New Hampshire to me is symbolic of a new journey protecting freedom with a new technology and a new crew," she said.
Politicians and citizens today debate whether the country has made the right political and military choices in Afghanistan and Iraq as a response. What isn't in dispute are the sacrifices made by those serving the country and, or their families. The 9/11 attacks shocked and stunned us, and ushered in an dramatically new era of defending ourselves against enemies waging a different kind of war.
"I wish that these three names going on there (the monument) are the last three names," Fatello said about the Hampton ceremony today.
We all share that wish.